Sanitary pads from papyrus

Status: Exit
Head office: Kampala, Uganda

MakaPads offer biodegradable sanitary towels made from papyrus and recycled paper to rural communities. MakaPads are manufactured locally and sterilised naturally via the sun’s UV light. Thanks to distribution through village shops and a lower price point compared to corporate competitors, they are more readily available and affordable to rural communities. As they are mostly made of natural ingredients, they don’t clog pit latrines as much as ordinary pads.

‘MAKA’ means home and is an acronym for Menstruation Administration Knowledge Affordability.

Providing girls with affordable menstrual hygiene products empowers them to go to school all year round and gives them a better future.

MakaPads employee sorting product

Key Facts

Pads sold

Women and girls provided with pads

Jobs created

Menstrual Hygiene Management Courses

People reached



  • Sustainable income through green jobs in local production
  • Less period poverty
  • Increased lifetime earnings due to higher attendance/ school completion rates


  • Made from renewable, locally sourced papyrus and paper waste
  • Low energy production
  • 95% biodegradable


  • Better menstrual hygiene – fewer menstrual health issues
  • Less chafing/ allergic reactions thanks to natural ingredients
  • Higher menstrual hygiene awareness in rural areas

Why MakaPads?

Sanitary pads do exist, but they are costly and not always readily available in rural areas of Uganda. Many girls therefore resort to putting rags in their undies, which chafe and embarrass them when they show. Plus, traditional pads clog pit toilets and are a burden to the already frail sewage system.

MakaPads employee cutting dried sheets
Makapads employee cutting flaps

The social background

Restricted access to menstrual hygiene products leads many African girls to miss school during their period, often the first step to dropping out altogether. Education, however, is vital to development: Educated girls take better care of themselves and others. They have a higher chance of employment and careers, getting fewer children later and raising them more responsibly, working hard to grow themselves and their families out of poverty.

The MakaPads Team

Shirley Kandabu


Shirley has a strong background in social impact businesses both from founding her own social impact venture and leading operations at Uganda’s largest innovation hub.  She fully understands the challenges involved in setting up a venture from the ground up and is driven by the desire to make a change in her community.  

Shirley is a Certified Public Accountant and a Professional Certified Marketer. She attended the University of Capetown as a research fellow and joined the Le Bridge fellow program at UC Berkeley.

Kathryn Nakitto

Operations Coordinator

Kathryn has been trained and is a trainer of Menstrual Hygiene Management Courses. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Kathryn is the eldest of five sisters, so it’s natural for her to care for the health and safety of young girls. Her passion drives her to teach MHM so that the MakaPads produced are not just sanitary pads but with them comes knowledge.

Paul Kimera

Board Member

Paul has broad engineering experience that includes at various stages highway engineering, building construction, and hydraulic engineering. He has dedicated more than a decade to research on water & sanitation technologies and their applicability to different contexts, especially where resource constraints limit traditional approaches.

Lately he is dedicating more time to connect the dots with a focus on technology, social problems and business.

Mirembe Nnassuuna

Board Member

Mirembe is a civil engineer by profession, a passionate worker with experience in working with diverse teams to set and achieve goals. Her management studies have propelled her to leadership positions and she is driven by the need to also bless others.

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