Skip navigation
Share via:

Pitch

Saathi has developed world's first 100% biodegradable and compostable all natural sanitary pads from banana fiber.


Description

Summary

84% of women lack access to sanitary pads. In the absence of proper menstrual protection, many women resort to using rags, cloths, bark and sand to stem menstrual bleeding, which exposes them to a high risk of infection.  Women who use cloth are often not able to properly sterilize them because of societal taboos. Improvised alternatives to pads are also uncomfortable and lack adequate absorbency - making it very difficult for women to manage a work or school day while on their period. The major issues urban women face due to commercial pads available in market is Itching, rash, irritation, infections, with long-term exposure to chemicals. The key problem Saathi addresses is to provide a hygienic, effective alternative to improve the lives of these women in urban and rural areas without creating any negative environmental impact. This is the most significant;  the small percentage of Indian women using sanitary pads today already generates 100,000+ tons of pad waste each year Plastic pads take 600 years to degrade, are frequently burned for disposal, generating CO2 & toxic fumes.

Saathi has developed 100% biodegradable and compostable pad made from banana fiber which is one of the most absorbent natural fibers. Unlike wood pulp or cotton, it is an agricultural by-product and doesn’t require additional land usage. Our all-natural pads do not contain bleach or chemicals to minimize skin irritation and release of toxins into the environment upon disposal. Not only are they more comfortable and safer for the user as they don’t contain bleach which has carcinogenic dioxins, Saathi pads degrade within 6 months of disposal, 1200 times faster than conventional pads, and eliminate the need for incineration, reducing CO2 production. We eliminate 60 kg of pad waste, per woman, in her lifetime. Saathi is part of the circular economy where everyone is positively impacted and our goal is to create hygiene products that are good for the body, environment, and community. 


Is this proposal for a practice or a project?

Project


What actions do you propose?

In order to scale up the reach to more women, we have to scale the production for which we are already raising money for the new factory setup and equipment. 

We have completed product testing. We are looking to raise funding for the following scale up plan:

 

 

  1. Scaling up manufacturing

  2. Hiring more staff to deal with increasing sales and production

  3. Employing more underprivileged women for increased production

  4. Developing the other sizes and variations of pads

  5. Scaling our supply chain

  6. Developing new products


Who will take these actions?

Saathi: Manufacture the biodegradable sanitary pads and will be leading the project. 

Conduct awareness and educating workshops among women and training the healthcare workers

 

NGO Partner: As NGO’s have a pre established base and hold over the communities  we would target to serve. They will be responsible for the distribution of sanitary pads in the targeted locations.

 

Impact study organisation:

We will be partnering with the organisation which will help us conduct the on field survey with the participants and non participants to major the impact of program in various phases.


Where will these actions be taken?

We have a manufacturing unit at Ahmedabad, Gujarat India.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

India


Country 2

No country selected


Country 3

No country selected


Country 4

No country selected


Country 5

No country selected


Impact/Benefits


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Saathi pads are good for the environment, because they are natural and do not end up as plastic waste: after disposal in a waste bin, they can degrade within 3-6 months. We have already saved 10 metric tons of plastic waste and project that, by 2023, Saathi will reduce plastic waste by 9,212 MT. We have already saved 12 MT of CO2 emissions and project that by 2023, we will reduce CO2 emissions by 10,849MT. 


What are other key benefits?

Our pads are also good for the community. In rural communities, 1 in 6 women miss about a month of work each year due to lack of access to modern feminine hygiene products. Saathi is using urban sales to subsidize pads for rural women, where menstruation is still a taboo subject. Saathi has already reached 6000+ women and will increase access to pads for 1.5 million women by 2023. Not only are we improving the lives of the product’s end users, we are also helping to support stakeholders. We buy agro-waste from banana tree farmers, who can earn extra income by selling waste which normally would be thrown on the side of the road. We have already increased banana farmers’ income by $43200 and will increase wages to banana farmers by $1815 million by 2023. We also employ underprivileged women in the manufacturing of our pads. Our goal is to employ 73,517 underprivileged women by 2023.


Costs/Challenges


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

We are looking to raise 4M to scale up and our scaleup plan includes the following steps:

  • Scaling up manufacturing

  • Employing more underprivileged women for increased production

  • Developing the other sizes and variations of pads

  • Scaling our supply chain

  • Developing new products

Challenges

  • Need to find a strong mentor or hire someone experienced in marketing as we scale up our production capacity

  • Not large diversity of suppliers for all our raw materials within India (Working with our current suppliers to develop the right materials and scale their operations)

  • Need to hire more people on our team as we are short-staffed (Currently hiring)

  • Unable to scale manufacturing quickly enough due to lack of funds. 

  • Team currently lacks experience in distributorship deals

 


Timeline

Our pads are good for women because there are no irritating chemicals and in the long-term there are no carcinogens so no chance of getting cervical cancer. They are good for the environment, because they are natural and do not end up as plastic waste: after disposal in a waste bin, they can degrade within 3-6 months. We have already saved 10 metric tons of plastic waste and project that, by 2023, Saathi will reduce plastic waste by 9,212 MT. We have already saved 12 MT of CO2 emissions and project that by 2023, we will reduce CO2 emissions by 10,849MT. Our pads are also good for the community. In rural communities, 1 in 6 women miss about a month of work each year due to lack of access to modern feminine hygiene products. Saathi is using urban sales to subsidize pads for rural women, where menstruation is still a taboo subject. Saathi has already reached 6000+ women and will increase access to pads for 1.5 million women by 2023. Not only are we improving the lives of the product’s end users, we are also helping to support stakeholders. We buy agro-waste from banana tree farmers, who can earn extra income by selling waste which normally would be thrown on the side of the road. We have already increased banana farmers’ income by $0.46  Million and will increase wages to banana farmers by $ 1815 Million by 2023. We also employ underprivileged women in the manufacturing of our pads. Our goal is to employ 73,517 underprivileged women by 2023. With our innovative and sustainable business model, we aim to transform India by providing additional wages to farmers, good work environments for women, and environmentally-friendly and healthy products for customers. Any companies available in India or many International selling biodegradable pads does not have all these major impact areas served.


About the author(s)

  • Kristin Kagetsu, CEO, is a graduate of MIT and previously launched another sustainable, eco-friendly product in India from locally sourced natural materials: natural-dye crayons made in Uttarakhand, India. She is experienced in product development with alternative materials and production as well as project management. 

  • Tarun Bothra, CTO, is a graduate of Nirma University and brings technical,business experience and local knowledge to develop the product and set up manufacturing. He has demonstrated his leadership throughout the R&D, product development, and production process. He is also responsible for compliance.

  • Amrita Saigal, CFO, is a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, and has industry knowledge from her previous role at P&G in the feminine hygiene division. She has also worked for Google and McKinsey which gives her an in-depth understanding of M&E and finance. 

  • Grace Kane, Advisor, is a graduate of MIT and TU Delft, and has R&D experience as well as product development experience. She focused on technical strategy and now advises on operations strategy. 


Related Proposals

We are running an initiative called #OneMillionpads partnered with India’s largest education NGO, Ekal Vidyalaya to distribute pads in the 88,000 schools they work in till now we are actively distributing pads in 8 villages every month among 1000+ women.


References

Below are some links about Saathi:

Short film based on Saathi pads: Miya biwi aur banana

 

Saathi's story: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/607986/rethinking-feminine-hygiene-in-india/

 

Saathi mentioned at 7 minute 21 second in Allure:100 Years of Periods

 

3rd Most Innovative Company 2019 bu Fast company https://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2019/sectors/india

 

http://www.thestandrewsprize.com/finalists/2019


 

Products recommended by Elle India for Eco-Friendly period: http://elle.in/culture/organic-menstrual-products/

 

Workshop on Sustainable menstruation hosted by Saathi: https://www.deccanherald.com/content/573842/for-green-woman.html

 

Features #onemillionpads project: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/rural-india-mit-grads-aim-improve-access-sanitary-pads-women-n719681

 

Discusses men fighting the  taboo: https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/articles/2017/04/07/the-men-trying-to-change-the-stigma-around-menstruation-in-india 

 

CNBC TV- 18 : https://business.facebook.com/cnbctv18india/videos/1732935560077168/?business_id=1614327091918871

Cartier Women's Initiative Awards: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZADuWpxe5g&feature=youtu.be

 

Our AJ+ video about Saathi has also had more than 1.2M views on FB (see the video!)