Dec 10, 2021
 in 
Tech

Meet Chaste Inegbedion, The Fem-Tech Founder Of Sanicle Who Raised $165K With A $1M Valuation

The Guardian referred to him as the “man on a mission to end period poverty in Nigeria”, whereas he refers to himself as the Chief Period Officer at Sanicle. The fem-tech founder says, "rather than write what I know about Periods, I write what I want to know on Periods.”

Image: Chaste Christopher Inegbedion

Sanicle aims to be the “Google" for Periods, and has since raised $165,000 in a round of funding that values the fem-tech at $1M. Mr. Inegbedion describes Sanicle as a Period Knowledge service company.

He says,

as a fem-tech company founded by members of underrepresented groups and communities, it's an important and personal matter to end period poverty.

Sanicle offers plant-based organic subscription period boxes, Period Genie game available on Android play store, and educational resources like the book co-authored by the founder, “The Period Passport: connecting Dads & Daughters on Better Period Management." The startup leverages technology and innovation to improve better access to women’s period hygiene especially for girls and women in marginalized regions. They received an Impact Investment of $165,000 from Platform Capital, with a grants proposition to produce a Short Animation Film and a Board Game called Period Genie. Mr. Inegbedion says Sanicle is a fast-growing fem-tech with a $1M valuation.

The fem-tech founder is a recipient of the Afrifamu Community Achievement Award and Manevia African Leadership Award for Social Innovation. He lives in Harrisburg with his spouse, Roxanne Stewart who’s a banker, photographer, and publisher.

As the co-author of ‘The Period Passport’, Chaste is just one of several authors behind new books about women’s bodies written, not by doctors or nurses, but individuals more neatly lumped together as social activists, who are unsettled by how little women know. Some of these books are journalistic (Lynn Enright’s Vagina: A Re-education; two separate books called Period by Natalie Byrne and Emma Barnett, It’s Only Blood by Anna Dahlqvist); some are polemic (Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman, Nadya Okamoto’s Period Power, Heavy Flow by Amanda Laird); others are more about reframing menstruation as an experience that could be more efficient and fulfilling (In the Flo by Alisa Vitti and Hill’s book Period Power).

Image:  (L) : Chaste Inegbedion, CPO, Sanicle; Laure Beaufils British Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau; a representative of the Nigeria Medical Association, Lagos

He is excited the book gets to drag 'Men into Menstruation' discussions, amidst the danger of a single story with Gender Equality. The book is available in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and audiobook. With this book, Chaste takes you deep into the heart of his own obsession with Period Poverty, radical writings on Devoted Hollywood Dads, Glamorous Grandma and Period Genie. The highly informative book, which covers all aspects of menstrual period in girls and women, was co-written by Yetunde Oluwafunmilayo Tola, a registered nurse and midwife based in Hong Kong.

This COVID Times Best Seller  “Periods Don’t Pause during Pandemics” attributes to a masterly feat for Men in Menstruation, is now being turned into a short animation film for Amazon Prime by Sanicle, creators of the Book.

Image: Ponmile Osibo, Chaste Inegbedion, Kunle Soriyan and Roxanne Stewart.

In an extended interview, Chaste shares more on his background with us:

TANTV: What drives you in pushing issues on menstruation for women?  

Chaste: Menstruation is an important phase in every woman’s life, which signals growth and biophysical maturity. Every normal girl or woman experiences this change as a natural, involuntary process. Unfortunately, minimal attention is paid to this aspect of women’s life. Rather, menstruation is a cause for negative societal reactions that tend to reduce women's self-esteem and is often a harbinger of emotional guilt. What is natural and inevitable becomes a social burden for females in many African societies. Lots of women are constrained or even deprived of the right to manage their menstrual cycle adequately, weighed against social biases and economic inadequacies like poverty; while others who may not face any social rebuffs may lack the financial capacity to manage menstruation hygienically and safely. Therefore, paying attention to proper menstrual hygiene simply becomes an opportunity cost and the alternative foregone.

Besides economic challenges, ignorance arising from poor education perpetuates old myths wherein societies are stuck in cultural believes surrounding menstruation. Menstruating girls and women face several possibilities including discrimination, stigmatization, ostracism, and segregation during their periods.

As a man championing such a feminine cause, do you get discriminated against?  

I get more celebrations rather than the discriminations, because the answer is simple: involve as many men as possible!  Men have a meaningful part to play in this conversation; as brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, and teachers to name a few.  Only with understanding and awareness of menstruation and menstrual practices are men empowered to act.  These actions could be advocating for clean and private bathrooms, role-modeling period positive behavior to students, communicating care and empathy rather than disgust and shame… or even stitching pads for the women in your life!

There are examples where men have made significant contributions. Dr Earle Cleveland Haas, a general practitioner in America in the early thirties, devised his own versions of cotton and bandage plugs to control bleeding problems in his patients. He perfected an item that could be inserted into vagina, now the well-known tampon, and patented it in 1931. The three Johnson brothers, of the multinational company Johnson and Johnson, created and sold their first batch of sanitary napkins in the year 1896-1897.  A more recent Indian male contributor is Arunachalam Muruganantham, developer of the low-cost pad manufacturing machines known as the Menstruation Man inspired Padman Africa which has fully evolved into Sanicle.  

Image: Chaste showcasing Different Period Innovations at the Southern Utah University.

How did this journey start for you?  

I started advocating for menstrual health, hygiene and affordable sanitary products as far back as I can remember because menstruation is one of the key components of SRHR and the perceptions surrounding menstruation inspired my advocacy. An example is a campaign I led which saw to the revival of a genitally abused girl child —she was a 5-year-old girl by the name Pwashikai Nideono from Adamawa state left to die after suffering Female Genital Mutilation and an urgent financial aid was needed for vaginoplasty. I then started the ‘Save Pwashikai Nideono campaign’ which generated enough buzz and funds for a successful operation. And since then, Pwashikai has been reconciled back to society. That spurred more activities around the promotion of Gender Equality while living in Northern Nigeria as an advocate of the MDGs now known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Is Period Innovation due for an Update?

Period innovation is due for an update. There was a time when women got really pumped about a new period tracking app, but the latest advancements with Sanicle working with other period technology organization to provide on our platform in kicking these apps to the curb.

In the 1930s, the tampon was invented by a man and to-date not much has changed. In 1969 pads shocked the world by adding an adhesive strip. Finally, building momentum through 2021, we’re starting to see safer and smarter products that offer women alternatives to coping with a bloody mess and its side effects. There is a chapter in our book that deals extensively on this.

Why the title Chief Period Officer?

"In my non-conventional role as the Chief Period Officer (CPO), differently from the more popular Chief Product Officer, I bring to bear strong analytical, managerial, communication, and leadership skills.

Whereas my title is new, it complements all the leading functions of different period stakeholders that would help design the operation strategies, communicate policies to employees, and help our human resources (HR) personnel build our core teams.

In an entrepreneurial situation like ours, here at Sanicle, the CPO may often have more practical experience, and may have come up with an excellent concept; albeit they may lack the start-up know-how to launch a company and manage it in the early stages of development. Therefore, my role is receiving the support of our executing team, who oversee the implementation of our company's strategies that are created by our senior management.

At Sanicle.US, our team holds the responsibility of "delivering results on a day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter basis to achieve profitability and impact in the USA, Africa and the world. I work with the CEO, CFO, CTO, Product Lead, VP Finance, VP Operations, VP Marketing, Community Builder, UX Designer, Advisory Board, Product Partners, Funders and other Period Stakeholders to efficiently translate our vision into a selling social business.

Any Last Word?

Our goal at Sanicle is to also contribute to Wikipedia sites, more useful information for people seeking knowledge across the globe. The overriding purpose is to improve the conditions of women and girls in menstruation in the United States and globally in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information, visit sanicle.shop. Sanicle Innovations include:  Organic Period Box,  The Period Passport & The Period Genie Game  . Follow Chaste on Twiiter.

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