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Start-up's 1p sanitary towel wins at Houses of Parliament

A 1p sanitary towel made from discarded fast fashion items won Cambridge University PhD student Jennifer Jia a £2,000 grant and a year of free business mentoring at an event at the Houses of Parliament this morning (October 22).

Jennifer's product, EmPad, is now aiming to produce the product on a mass scale that will make them the cheapest on the market, be hygienic, and finally provide a mass market solution to reach all 43million women in India who can’t afford a menstrual product an use leaves, rags and ashes that cause urinary tract infections instead. Then, once this goal is achieved, to sell it to the half a billion women dotted about in other countries who also can’t afford sanitary products

Jennifer, 25, said: "I am extremely humbled to have been selected. This grant will allow me to create and test a minimum viable product by converting disposed clothing from fast fashion into affordable and clean sanitary pads for women. I hope to utilize my networks through the Gates Foundation, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Cambridge Judge Business School to create this venture. Winning this competition means a lot to me because I want to deliver this solution that has been long overdue."

With fast fashion currently accounting for 8 per cent of global climate emissions, the panel of judges - including Simon Lancaster, founder of both SJL Insurance and the SJL Foundation, and former Dragon’s Den star and founder of gift experience company Red Letter Days, Rachel Elnaugh - were impressed that Jennifer has her finger on the pulse of current global problems.

Simon Lancaster, founder of the SJL Foundation, said: “Jennifer’s product will help reduce carbon emissions from the production and distribution of fast fashion, one of the world’s biggest contributors to carbon emissions and provides affordable sanitary care products for potentially half a billion females in the world. Jennifer is bright, articulate, a good orator and hungry to learn and progress in life and the SJL team is looking forward to mentoring her and helping her get her product to market and beyond."

Other businesses recognised at the event included:

- RunTrack, a company that will provide sports sessions for young people in some of London's most deprived areas and they will be able to find them via an online platform that will be built from the grant money.

- Good Things Gifts, a three-month old company that sells sustainably-produced ethical toys and gifts from around the world, including beach play sets produced from plastic washed up on beaches.

- Femaletradesperson.co.uk - a concept that allows consumers to find women trade professionals in a sector traditionally dominated by male workers.

- Nottinghamshire-based Janice Rose Lingerie is a bra fitting and bra selling business, which has donated 10,000 bras to women in Gambia; She will travel to the country to fit the underwear to women there on the 25th November 2019.

- SB Shop, which is run by a disabled model, and specialises in fashionable inclusive clothing for all people including both able bodied and disabled people and it is specially designed to also include people in wheelchairs, or who may be seated for a long time, or people who require prosthetics.

- London-based MDJ Walls uses plastic and silk flowers to create beautiful backgrounds for weddings and other events.

- MindRun4Girls, which works with schools and families to provide girls aged 9-12 years old with opportunities to join running groups and learn mindfulness techniques.

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