In Sub-Saharan Africa, a large proportion of a woman’s education and working life can be interrupted by menstruation, because of limited access to effective and affordable sanitary products. Liita Iyaloo Cairney, founder of Kalitasha, wants to tackle these issues for women in the developing world.
Born in Namibia, Liita Iyaloo Cairnay moved to Scotland to pursue her PhD in Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She may have been expected to pursue a career in NGOs, health agencies or government departments, but few could have predicted that today Liita would be tacking arguably one of the biggest issues facing women: menstruation and the associated challenges and taboos.
According to UNICEF, 77% of girls in Nigeria have no place at school to change their sanitary materials. It is estimated that some girls in Africa miss up to 10 per cent of their education because they don’t have access to the right products.
Liita founded her company, Kalitasha, in 2013 with her product, Koree, to help tackle this issue. Koree is a reusable hygiene device that provides both functional and psychological protection to effectively and affordably manage the menstrual cycle.
With support from LAUNCH.ed, Edinburgh Innovations’ service for student entrepreneurs, Liita won a SMART proof-of-concept grant. This was followed by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship and private investment, which allowed Liita to test her ideas and create a prototype.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be an entrepreneur until I met Edinburgh Innovations. They helped me find my calling.”