South African women have always had a knack for innovation. Innovations that usually benefit not only their family but their community too. Social entrepreneurship is one of the major industries where women are making massive strides in eradicating the employment issue in South Africa while addressing the pertinent social problems of our generation.
Leafline, a South African social enterprise, is the catalyst for an innovative range of reusable and washable adult, women, and baby sanitary products. Based in Bathurst in the Eastern Cape, an important pineapple-growing region for South Africa, the uniqueness of Leafline’s range lies in the fact that the inner linings are all produced from the fibres of pineapple leaves.
This innovation is a South African, and world, first.
Founder and business owner Candy Androliakos, a beauty therapist by profession, identified a need for comfortable, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly sanitary wear as a sustainable solution to incontinence in adults, female menstrual health, and baby/toddler health and hygiene.
A resident of Bathurst, Candy became aware that pineapple leaves can be processed into a soft cottonwool-like substance, and started experimenting with producing a range of washable and re-usable sanitary products. Leafline’s range of products now comprises adult and baby nappies, sanitary towels, breast pads, as well as chair and bed protectors. Leafline has also registered a patent on the unique inner linings that form the basis of its product range.
Candy’s is in the business of restoring dignity. Leafline produces products that directly restore the dignity of South Africans. The sanitary wear takes on the ever-present scourge of period poverty among most especially young women, brought on by the abject poverty many South Africans live in, and the inability to access sanitary towels and products during their menstrual cycles. The elderly and incontinent are looked after too.
All inner linings are made from pineapple leaf fibres which are free from bacteria and have strong re-use qualities; the fibres also have an excellent smell, moisture, and bacterial absorption properties. Inner linings are wrapped in cotton or waterproof outers, and the end result is discreet and practical products that are more affordable and kinder to the environment than their disposable counterparts.
Linings are easy to wash for reuse. They require soaking overnight and then handwashing at 40 degrees. They are also machine-washable.
Says Candy, “It is imperative that our products have a positive impact on the lives of the elderly, the poor, and persons with disabilities. The cost of adult sanitary wear is not affordable for many elderly and disabled South Africans. Our adult incontinence range is significantly cheaper than disposable alternatives, as well as being more comfortable and easier for caregivers to work with.
“Similarly, many young girls from impoverished communities often have to stay home from school during their menstrual cycle because they cannot afford sanitary towels.
“We are excited about the potential influence that our products are able to have to lessen the financial burden on some of our country’s most vulnerable sectors”, she said.
The project has a positive spin-off on the economy of the local community in that it employs 5 people from a local NGO, Enkuthazweni Skills Training College, which supports and empowers persons with disabilities. As demand increases production, it is expected that many more people from the surrounding community will be employed by Leafline.
Leafline was awarded first place in the SAB Foundation’s Disability Empowerment Awards in 2021 for its social innovation with the objective of improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities through assistive devices, training, or employment.
For more information, contact Leafline on 073 165 5632 or visit their website: Sanitary Products, Nappies, Protectors [Natural Fibre] – Leafline.