Bermuda start-up gets off the ground with help from Canada
A Bermuda start-up looking to make sustainable feminine hygiene products, has won the backing of a Canadian firm.
Founder Kristen Scott Ndiaye revealed that her company, Noémie, will receive investment backing from BmDodo Strategic Design, a graphic arts firm in Kingston, Ontario.
“We’re excited to start a mentoring relationship with a firm that has such a great portfolio, and is community and sustainability focused,” Ms Scott Ndiaye said. “The investment will give Noémie the dynamic personality that it needs to successfully launch an age-old idea into a modern world, both for the island and internationally.”
This investment will include a branding suite, strategy and executive support from its founders who have over 50 years of collective experience.
The product, reusable, washable menstrual pads, will be marketed as a sustainable option for Bermuda. They will be made with natural, odour-eating, and absorbent materials. The aim is to decrease the amount of harmful chemicals going into women’s bodies, and plastics headed for the incinerator.
Ms Scott Ndiaye’s business idea won a pitch competition at the BEDC’s Women's Conference last year.
“I prepared that pitch to the BEDC the night before,” she said. “I did not think I was going to enter the pitch competition.”
Her idea first caught Canadian attention when The Royal Gazette published an article about her competition win, last December.
“The day after it came out, everyone was sending the article around,” Ms Scott Ndiaye said.
The article ended up in the hands of QyourVenture at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. QyourVenture is a programme that helps students and community members turn their ideas, technology, or inspiration into a venture.
"QyourVenture was similar to the Ignite programme here in Bermuda and I was already in cohort 2 of Ignite,“ she said. ”That is why I didn't end up going through their programme.“
But she was introduced to the QyourVenture network, which had three different people interested in the idea for different reasons including BmDodo.
“That's how the investment offer came about from BmDodo,” she said.
She was excited and a little relieved at the offer.
“I was having trouble making the pads myself,” said Ms Scott Ndiaye, the mother of two small children. “I was thinking this is so hard with a baby. Then we found an amazing partner. That is when everything got picked back up again. This design company has already started mentoring and doing amazing things.”
Currently, BmDodo is working on a dossier for Noémie.
“We will be working back and forth to get our brand going,” she said. “We are very proud to support such a positive initiative that could help to solve real problems within women’s health and the environment, while reducing average household costs.”
The pads will be manufactured in Senegal.
“That is huge, because my husband, Charles Ndiaye, is from Senegal,” Ms Scott Ndiaye said. “We thought this would be a good opportunity to work with the women over there.”
She has visited Senegal four times with her husband.
She considered having her pads made in China, but thought the product would be too “cookie-cutter”.
“I needed something unique to me and my life,” she said.
Ms Scott Ndiaye runs The Well, a health and social enterprise that uses technology to give Bermuda’s women empowerment around their reproductive health and abilities, through earlier and easier access to information.
Noémie reusable pads will be the first product under the brand name. They are set to go on sale next month on The Well website.
“I feel like this is a real need,” she said. “The interest, so far, has been so incredible that I feel open to making this bigger.”
But for now, she will start with the Bermuda market.
Pre-orders can be made at www.wellbermuda.com or by e-mailing email@example.com.
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