Entrepreneurship found me: Cindy Arunga, a US-based Kenyan entrepreneur speaks out
Tell us about Vaaji Life?
Vaaji Life is Africa’s first and only femtech company revolutionising African women’s personal health by combining digital technology and quality products to provide 360° coverage.
We provide menstrual hygiene supplies (sanitary towels and tampons) of the highest quality in the market. Our products go by the name Vaaji.
We have also come up with a mobile application that uses cutting edge technology to educate and empower women by providing them with personalised health insights.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I never intended to become an entrepreneur. It actually “found me” or so to speak. My passion has always been being the voice of the voiceless and standing up for what’s right.
However, three years ago, while on one of my trips visiting family in Kenya, I used some female hygiene products.
I bought the brands I was used to using in the US only to find that while the packaging was comparable, the products were completely different.
After dealing with itchiness and a rash post my period, I embarked on a journey to understand why this was the case.
With my background in product quality assurance, I was able to dig quite deep, and the more I found out about why these health effects were happening, the stronger the conviction I had that “someone” had to do something about this. That evolved into me realising “why not me?”.
That is how my entrepreneurship journey started. We launched Vaaji Life last year.
Though challenging in many different ways, it is also the most fulfilling journey I have been on.
Who funds your company?
Up until now, the company has been funded by a combination of personal funds and close friends and family who have seen the Vaaji vision.
My co-founder is my husband, a brilliant mind whose expertise in finance and operations enabled my dream of building Vaaji to come to life.
He is a private guy who prefers staying behind the scenes ensuring things function properly.
Where is your manufacturing facility? And how are your products different from others?
Our goal is to provide African women with the highest quality technology has to offer in every single product we provide.
We currently manufacture out of the country and for this reason, we are actively seeking partnerships that will allow us to bring manufacturing closer to the end consumer.
However, elements of our packaging are done locally without compromising quality.
Our products are made of cotton, rather than synthetic fibres such as plastic or viscose, which is what the majority of the products in the Kenyan market are made of.
We focus on utilizing cotton as a base. We also exclude chemicals, fragrances, and dyes.
Cotton is extremely absorbent, which leaves you feeling dry throughout your whole experience, thus avoiding rashes and burns.
Where do you sell your products and where do you see the brand in the next few years?
We deliver directly to your doorstep. You can order on our website or through our social media pages.
We also have a shop in Nairobi Kilimani area and we hope to open more stores in the near future.
Are your products approved globally?
Yes, our products are approved globally since we have a global supply chain that spans from America to Asia and across Africa.
Apart from the Kenya Bureau of Standards certification, we also have certifications to assure the quality of our products from the Global Organic Textile Standard, The Food and Drug Administration, the International Organisation for Standardisation and from Conformitè Europëenne (European conformity).
What different is your company doing as far as menstrual health is concerned?
Our value proposition is founded on mutually beneficial long-term relationships with our customers rather than just transactional encounters.
Not only do we provide organic cotton products that do not leave negative short-term or long-term health effects, but we have also made it our mission to play our part in demolishing historically taboo topics that are currently detrimental to women’s well-being such as period shaming.
Through our app, women are able to track their cycle and receive personalised health insights.
It will also serve as a safe space for women to discuss all things women without fear. That’s what we mean by investing in people.
Your target market?
Our target market is any woman that finds herself with the power of choice to invest in products that are better for her body.
We are providing a healthier, more comfortable, and cleaner alternative to what’s already in the market.
If you are dissatisfied or are looking for a better experience during your period, come on over.
Last but not least your parting shot?
I would encourage emerging entrepreneurs to believe in themselves, choose their path right, seek a mentor.
Also when one faces a challenge, which is a must, they should always look for people who have through such to help them navigate.