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Female Start-up of the Year award for Bristol graduate

A social enterprise set up by a University of Bristol graduate, tackling the taboos surrounding menstruation and sanitation, has been named Female Start-up of the Year.

Chloe Tingle’s three-minute pitch about No More Taboo won the vote of a panel of expert judges at the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs – the UK’s biggest gathering of female entrepreneurs, hosted by Enterprise Nation and held at Colston Hall in Bristol.

No More Taboo is a not-for-profit social enterprise selling reusable sanitary products in the UK to reduce their environmental impact, before investing 100 per cent of the profits into charitable projects in the developing world that help tackle the taboos surrounding menstruation and sanitation.

Chloe, who completed her Master’s degree in Engineering Design in 2014, said: “I was so pleased to even have been considered for the Female Start-Up of the Year competition.  Pitching to a room full of successful female entrepreneurs was quite nerve-racking and I was relieved when I managed to keep to my allocated three minutes.

“I was thrilled with the warm reception I received and the encouragement I got from everyone. So many people were interested in the idea and wanted to hear more beyond my three-minute pitch.

“The praise I got from the panel and other entrepreneurs was reward enough but I was so pleased to win the package of support from the sponsoring organisations. I am especially excited to get stuck into some crowd-source funding with the support of Crowdcube and IdeaSquares.”

The inspiration for No More Taboo came during a volunteering trip to Bolivia, where Chloe saw a huge gap in women’s education. The girls she was teaching were influenced almost entirely by myths and rumours when understanding menstruation.

The girls Chloe worked with in Bolivia rarely vocalised problems or questions, and were barely able to afford sanitary products. However, they were concerned with the environment and were keen to decrease the amounts of non-reusable sanitary products that were being used.

Chloe added: “It really made me think – if a girl in Bolivia can be so concerned about her impact on the environment, why are we not doing more to reduce the amount of disposables we use?

“In the UK, a woman will spend on average more than £2,500 using over 11,000 disposable pads or tampons during her lifetime, creating more than 150 kg of contaminated waste.”

Chloe has big plans for 2016 based on a business plan she put together for Bristol University’s New Enterprise Competition, in which she was highly commended, coming in fourth place and winning £1,000 worth of market research support.

Plans for No More Taboo include raising £20,000 to achieve the goal of being a self-sustaining social enterprise that requires no outside charitable support. It aims to be running over six menstrual hygiene programs in developing countries alongside working with UK women living in poverty to help them manage their menstruation.

Ultimately, these plans for growth in terms of sales over the next five years, could help eradicate 743 tonnes of menstrual waste going to landfill; save women £16 million which can be reinvested into the local economy; educate 9,200 UK school children; donate over 3000 products and have partners working in three different locations worldwide.

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