Updated 19 September 2013

Banana waste to sanitary pads under spotlight

A delegate to the One Young World summit to be held in Johannesburg next month is to highlight a project that uses banana waste to create affordable sanitary pads.


Sylvere Mwizerwa uses banana waste to create affordable sanitary pads for his community in Rwanda.

He is one of 24 delegates sponsored by MTN to attend the One Young World (OYW) summit to be held in Johannesburg from 2-5 October 2013.

MTN, the national host sponsor of the 2013 One Young World summit, the first to be held in Africa, selected 24 youth delegates from 19 of its markets across Africa and the Middle East to attend the event. An additional two delegates will be selected this month to represent South Africa.

Mwizerwa (27), a business development officer at Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) in Rwanda, works with more than 600 banana growers, mostly women and girls from poor communities, to produce affordable sanitary pads using agro-waste.

“I provide them with the necessary banana fibre extraction skills and they are now able to produce banana fibres and sell them to SHE, which then transformed the fibres into the fluff to make sanitary pads,” he says.

Mwizerwa says women and girls will be able to open their own franchises and sell affordable sanitary pads in the near future.

“The women will be taught basic accounting skills to empower them to run their own businesses.”

Pressing issues

MTN's executive for group corporate affairs, Rich Mkhondo, says: “One Young World gives MTN a platform to connect young people and contribute towards the nurturing of future leaders.

"We're proud to be a part of such a great initiative and believe that our contribution will go some way towards making the lives of our youths and communities a whole lot brighter.”

Now in its 4th year, the summit is a platform for young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from around the world to debate and formulate solutions to global pressing issues.

This will be MTN’s 3rd year as a sponsor.

The company has sponsored 38 delegates over the past two years and they are now active OYW ambassadors in their countries.

Mkhondo said: “The conference has had a tremendous impact on past delegates.

"Many of them are active goodwill ambassadors in their countries and involved in a range of projects, including education, business, climate change and access to health.”


One such ambassador is Janice Pratt (23) from Liberia.

She was sponsored by MTN Lonestar Cell to attend the summit held in Pittsburgh in the United States last year.

Pratt said: "By being involved in initiatives like OYW, MTN is driving change for a better world through investing in young innovative minds with the energy and passion to bring about change.

"The lack of funds is a major hindrance for inspired young people who want to attend such events, but MTN is filling that gap,” said Pratt.

She said she learnt various skills, including advocacy, how to create youth employment opportunities and how to start a small project at last year's summit.
She used these skills to start various projects, including the Dream Big Foundation.

The work carried out by her foundation includes sourcing funding for young people who want to empower their communities.


“I became inspired to start the foundation after listening to a speaker who spoke about innovation and social change at the summit,” adds Pratt.

Another OYW delegate who benefitted from MTN’s sponsorship is 25-year-old Isaiah Owolabi from Nigeria.

Owolabi learnt community engagement skills and how to collaborate at all levels of the project during last year's summit.

He has since been involved in various projects in his community, including environmental protection, malaria prevention as well as sanitation and hygiene.

Photo: Sanitary pad from Shutterstock


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