They say necessity is the mother of invention. This popular phrase resonates so much truth, especially in the startup and innovation space. Where innovations and businesses are built around creating lasting solutions to some common faced by society. Bulawayo Babies Eco Care is one such startup. It seeks to make change how people think about and consume hygiene wear.
Where necessity meets need
Bulawayo Babies manufactures and retails reusable hygiene wear products that are safe on both the user and the environment. Their products include reusable diapers, wipes, menstrual pads, and period panties. Founded in 2016, by Tapiwa Ncube, a professional banker based in Bulawayo, Bulawayo Babies is based on saving money. This is because reusable and hygiene wear is cheaper in the long run.
“My journey into motherhood made me appreciate the high costs associated with diapering needs. Disposable nappies and wipes chewed a huge chunk of my income as I failed to understand why we had to literally throw money down the drain to manage poop!!”
“After learning about the modern version of cloth diapering and the huge savings associated with switching over, not only was I determined to make it work for me but also offer other mothers the same experience of using sustainable alternatives hence the birth of Bulawayo Babies”.
Surviving as a social venture in Zimbabwe
As a social enterprise, Bulawayo Babies’ value proposition is to bring together the need for cheaper alternatives to hygiene wear. This also feeds into creating a cleaner and safer environment for society and generations to come. This is reflected by who the company has identified as key users of their products. Tapiwa also explained how these alternatives to sanitary wear, have proven to be cheaper for consumers.
“Our target market consists of users looking for affordable hygiene care alternatives, the tree huggers fighting environmental pollution, and the health-conscious groups in need of products that do not contain chemicals. The main strategy at launch was that of savings, with $400 being the total spend on a full supply of reusable diapers and accessories for each child from birth until potty training, in comparison to $2,500 spent on the disposable nappy supplies!”
Moving with the times Bulawayo Babies opted to leverage on technology to push sales and marketing. Through their online store, the startup hopes to curb some of the logistical problems connected with operating such a business. The challenges associated with accessing material from various suppliers have forced the business to outsource production and receive ready finished products for retail.
The renewable/reusable industry isn’t new. Tapiwa and her team, however, are definitely bringing something different to the market, through their trendy and fashionable diapers. This doesn’t mean they are free from competition, as the country has experienced a surge in reusable sanitary wear distribution.
“Competition has kept us on our toes, making us aware of market trends and consumer’s evolving needs. This has forced us to continuously improve our product and service offerings, as well as diversify without neglecting our niche market.”
Looking to the future…
With the Covid-19 global pandemic, the startup’s direct engagements with their customers have been shut down. This has solidified the need for the company to build a strong digital brand and online solutions for the future.
“The future is online! The use of digital tools to make the right noise, raise awareness, and networking is key to our relevance and success. The Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated the adjustment of our business model to learn on production and logistical efficiencies.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has been leading the fight for the banning of disposable diapers. This is because they pose a real threat to the environment, as they don’t easily decompose. Tapiwa, the banker turned social entrepreneur could be providing a lasting solution by producing reusable diapers.