Grand Challenges Canada

Innovations can play a pivotal role in transforming the lives of women around the globe. One such innovation making waves in Kenya is the Wema breast pump by Maziwa. This affordable device not only empowers women economically but also brings about significant social changes in the lives of mothers. 

According to Maziwa, 60% of women drop out of the Kenyan workforce for family duties. As Kenyan mothers return to work – usually less than three months postpartum – they are met with workplaces that are impractical or unaccommodating for breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding guards against gastrointestinal infections, provides vital nutrients for physical and cognitive development, and reduces the risk of infant mortality. But despite its proven and well-known benefits, breastfeeding’s practical application is not as straightforward. Breastfeeding in public has been a cultural taboo as well in many societies, including Kenya. The Wema Breast Pump allows women to express milk discreetly at the workplace, breaking barriers for working mothers. 

Empowering Working Mothers: The Wema Breast Pump has become a game-changer for working mothers in Kenya. With the ability to express breast milk efficiently, women can balance both their professional and maternal responsibilities. The Wewa pump is portable, battery-operated, rechargeable and wireless, with a discreet design that makes it possible for women to pump at work, even without a dedicated lactation space. Maziwa’s pump is less expensive than other options and is aimed at reaching low-income women who typically do not have access to breast pumps or lactation support.  

Economic Opportunities: The introduction of the Wema Breast Pump has also paved the way for income-generating opportunities. In a recent partnership with GCC-supported innovator Tiny Totos, Maziwa trained managers on breastfeeding support, covering pumping techniques and storage. Daycare managers were also introduced to the Wema breast pump, allowing further income diversification with a new income stream by renting the pumps to mothers. These efforts aim to empower women to work while ensuring excellent care for infants in our daycares and advancing the understanding of breastfeeding. 

Breaking Stigmas: Maziwa’s Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors also provide lactation support to mothers and address common myths and misconceptions, challenging societal stigmas. This creates a more inclusive and accepting society where women can comfortably balance their roles as mothers and contributors to the workforce.