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Macau Honours Mozambican Idea That Dignifies Women

Macau Honours Mozambican Idea That Dignifies Women

From the reuse of wasted agricultural products, a sustainable project was born with the menstrual health of the millions of women who work in rural Mozambique in mind. The idea has just won an award at a start-up competition in Macau, China. The entrepreneurial duo explained to E&M the essence of this work that is capturing attention.

Maktub is a Mozambican start-up created by two young entrepreneurs with a great ambition: to tackle society’s challenges by sustainably enhancing the value chain of agricultural crops. How? By promoting the efficient and sustainable utilisation of waste. The idea was honoured at a competition in Macau, a Portuguese legacy that is now a special administrative region of China.

Neide Ussiana and Sidney Mouga decided to take their company to the 929 Challenge, an event co-organised by Forum Macau with universities and various other entities to develop business ideas that link China and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).

In this, its third edition, the competition had around 290 teams, divided into two categories, one for universities and the other for startups. And among so many teams, what led Maktub to be honoured as the ‘Startup with the Most Impact’?

“We developed a project to utilise agricultural waste from certain crops. However, our focus was not so much on the agricultural component, but on women and girls of reproductive age. On average, 6.5 million women in Mozambique live in rural areas and don’t have access to information or the financial means to buy sanitising products when they are menstruating,” Neide explained. It was in this context that the idea honoured in China was born. “We thought of a solution that would maintain dignity but would be low cost, easy to access and have less environmental impact, bearing in mind that waste creates pollution,” said Sidney. It solves a social problem in the field of reproductive health, promotes gender equality and preserves the environment by “reducing the use of plastics and pollution”.

The absorbent pads are made from specific products from agricultural crops (whose creators prefer not to publicise).

“This is material that is often discarded from plants. So we tackled this component of waste to produce a biodegradable material,” explained Sidney Mouga.

The strategy consists of producing absorbents locally and trying to keep the cost as low as possible. “Obviously, we also have a strategy of interacting with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and programmes linked to sexual and reproductive health,” concluded Sidney.

Maktub was the only African company to receive a distinction in the 929 Challenge and throughout the competition it had the opportunity to meet various experts and organisations that could play an important role in the development of the project

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The 929 Challenge is a start-up competition that aims to strengthen commercial and business exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. This year it had two strands: one for universities and the other for startups.

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