Angie Sánchez and Laura Gutiérrez, two young Costa Rican promoters of the first menstrual cup made in the country, are seeking financial support to acquire a mold that allows them to increase their production capacity and thus expand their Cíclica brand throughout Central America and the Caribbean.
To do this, these entrepreneurs launched a crowdfunding campaign – a collaborative project financing mechanism – with which they seek to raise $ 80 thousand to invest in the purchase of the mold, as well as in a first production of the device, which will serve as “gasoline” for the launch of education and awareness initiatives around menstruation.
The cost of the mold ranges from $ 30,000 to $ 100,000, depending on the company from which it is purchased. Gutiérrez mentioned that the options they handle are in Mexico and Costa Rica; However, this international trader explained that until now the balance is tilted towards the first option, as it is even cheaper with the costs of its transfer to the country.
“Our main issue right now is that the production of menstrual cups became a very fast prototype for us. Three months after launching the menstrual cups made here in Costa Rica, we realized that the productive capacity was very low for the amount of demand there is, both real and potential”, co-founder of Cíclica.
More production, lower prices
24 years old Gutiérrez mentioned that with the new mold 2,500 surgical silicone menstrual cups would be produced per month, almost 10 times more than with the prototype. The venture manufactures in the country in alliance with the company Central American Silicone Suppliers (CASS), which is headquartered in the Zeta Free Zone, in Alajuela
Another advantage of the mold is that it will allow a third size of the product to be included, in order to better adapt “to the diversity of bodies that exist”. “The idea (of crowdfunding) is to be able to leverage the acquisition of this mold because this will allow us to lower production costs. And by lowering production costs, we will be able to offer a menstrual cup at a much lower price, which is what we have always aspired to: to be able to offer products that are affordable,” added the co-founder.
Currently, each menstrual cup has a price of ¢ 18,000 and, if the mold is obtained, it would be reduced to more than half, according to Gutiérrez. Each of these cups has a useful life of more than five years (provided they are properly maintained), so they are promoted as a sustainable alternative to disposable pads and tampons.
“Part of our values and our ideology is that we are all told and asked to be friendly with the environment in all our actions, but sometimes that is not accessible to people because what pollutes is cheaper than what it is environmentally friendly.
“That is why for us it is contradictory to offer products that are good for the environment but that are not affordable for the entire population when it is the entire menstruating population that needs these products, not just certain people. So that is a commitment that we we have with our community, the power to lower prices,” said the spokeswoman.
With the above, it is also expected to achieve an expansion of the brand, which will allow it to reach markets such as Panama, where negotiations are already being carried out and it is expected to start with the online sale in the middle of the month; as well as in the other countries of the isthmus, where it is planned to start the procedures in the second half of the year.
“We feel a super great commitment to the region because we are not really inventing anything. Menstrual cups and these products have already been made for many years, however, there has never been interest from large companies to enter countries like ours”.
“One understands that from the objective aspect of profitability, because perhaps we are not that large a population or such a large market, but we are still people who have the need to stop feeling limited by a physiological issue”.
Reaching all Central America
“So the first place where we want to be is in Central America, because there is also a lot of poverty and many limitations in education issues and we know that with a menstrual cup, with a cloth towel or special pants we can change the life of these women and empower them more,” added Gutiérrez.
If you wish to join the campaign, you can enter their link and make a contribution of any amount; Or, do it for predefined amounts and receive benefits such as: personalized thanks, public thanks, support for free talks on sustainable menstruation, as well as the delivery of kits to indigenous populations, or with the acquisition of a personal menstrual package.
The campaign will be available until May 18th; simultaneously, the promoters of the project are looking for private investors. Cíclica was founded by Sánchez and has its beginnings in 2018, when this 26-year-old biologist returned from Germany and lost a socioeconomic scholarship with which she was studying at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), so she had to manage how to pay for her education. At first, the native of Moravia brought menstrual cups from the United States and sold them to friends as well as acquaintances. A year later, she approached her partner to assess the production and distribution of this device in the country.
This initiative won the Women Entrepreneur 2020 award and they participated in the reality show De.Mentes, through which they received $ 15 thousand in non-reimbursable funds from the Development Banking System (SBD).
Currently, this venture offers, in addition to cups, menstrual pants and cloth towels -made by other companies led by women-, female condoms, natural lubricants, ointments for menstrual pain, therapeutic pillows, sterilizing cups to clean the cup, among others. All products and their prices are available in the brand’s virtual store.