iDE Global
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Health & Hygiene Products Business Owner

As a single mother, Monowara Begum had to muster all her courage to start a tailoring business in Bangladesh. Because of her physical disability, which hindered her mobility, her family worried she’d have trouble managing by herself. But with two young children to raise, she refused to let her disability slow her down.

So she took out a loan, rented a shop in Cox’s Bazar, and bought a sewing machine. In addition to making clothes, she decided to fill a gap in the market by producing reusable menstrual hygiene products because disposable items were hard to find in her low income community.

But while a hard worker and skilled seamstress, she knew little about bookkeeping or marketing. Determined to succeed, she met with iDE after learning about an education program to improve sanitation and hygiene in her area. It seemed like a good fit and with iDE’s support, she learned new business skills and was put in touch with suppliers who provide her with materials to make more reusable pads.

To promote her business, she also held community meetings to raise awareness about the importance of proper menstrual hygiene. “When I was getting divorced, I faced poverty,” says Monorwara, “Now, I can take care of my family's needs and send my children to school.”

What's next for Monowara

Monowara would like to expand her door-to-door sales territory to reach more adolescent girls with her message of self-reliance, overcoming disability, and the importance of proper menstrual health hygiene management.

Monowara’s hometown, a rural area with 15 villages and around 5,500 households, lacks proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. Women in the region, particularly those of reproductive age, lack awareness about crucial hygiene practices, including menstrual hygiene management. Cultural taboos and limited access to certain places restrict women, while financial constraints within households prevent them from purchasing improved sanitary products. Despite their interest, women feel reluctant to ask their male relatives to buy pads. Male-dominated communities also limit women's access to markets, forcing them to use homemade sanitary napkins made from cloth or cotton wool, leading to potential infections.

Monowara holds a 40 Under 40 certificate presented to her by the iDE Bangladesh management team for exemplifying the highest qualities of entrepreneurship: business savvy, courage, community-mindedness, innovation, leadership, and grit. Monowara also deserves to be recognized for showing that women can succeed in male-dominated industries while improving the quality of life in their communities for other women and girls.

Monowara's Details

  • Bangladesh
  • Water, Sanitation & Hygiene
Entrepreneur Impact
  • Local Distribution & Sales
  • Production
Ecosystem Impact
  • Food & Nutrition Security

Country Profile

  • 133/189

    Human Development Index (HDI) Rank

  • 14%

    Poverty Rate

  • 166 Million People


iDE was started as a radical idea that business is a solution to move people out of poverty. 40 years later, we still don't give things away. We create long term change by powering entrepreneurs to end poverty for their families and communities.

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