Biodegradable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber
Saathi has developed the first fully biodegradable and eco-friendly sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber for women across India.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
India: Ahmedabad, Ranchi, Mumbai, Delhi
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Lack of access to sanitary pads is a critical women’s rights issue: it is the leading reason for higher school dropout rates of girls than boys, women missing work, and one of the main causes of infections in women. However, if every woman in India started using disposable sanitary napkins, it would cause an environmental crisis. Commercial pads made by P&G and J&J are almost 90% plastic and contain toxic chemicals which are released into the environment when disposed of, and clog waterways or collect in landfills.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Saathi has developed the world’s first 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pad made from banana fiber to reduce sanitary pad waste and make use of more sustainable materials. Banana fiber is one of the most absorbent natural fibers and abundant in India. We have designed the entire manufacturing process from start to finish and currently have a patent filed for our manufacturing process. Our innovation lies in developing a proprietary process of converting banana fiber into an absorbent fluffy material. We then take the processed banana fiber and sandwich it between a top and bottom biodegradable layer, seal it and cut it to get the final sanitary pad product.
Saathi positively impacts women, agriculture, and the local economy. We locally source all of our raw materials, including the banana tree fiber, providing Indian farmers additional income each harvest. We create employment opportunities in pad production for local women.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
Since launching earlier this year, we have sold 250,000 pads to more than 10,000 women and generated 30,000USD in revenue. The average sanitary pad contains 3.4g of petrochemical plastic, meaning that the average women will generate 23kg of plastic and 140kg of CO2 in her lifetime from sanitary pads alone. The 250,000 pads we have sold have removed 850kg of what would have been sanitary pad plastic waste otherwise. Additionally, since launching, Saathi has provided an extra source of income to more than 100 banana farmers and we have provided jobs to ten low income women in our factory.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
Saathi pads are accessible to all women with our two-pronged pricing scheme. Our business model is to sell pads in urban India at a price of Rs.20/pad and use that to subsidize our pads sold in urban India at a price of Rs.5/pad. Sales in the rural market will be exclusively through NGOs, who have both pre-existing distribution networks and can couple distribution with general menstrual hygiene education. Saathi’s NGO partner is Ekal Vidyalaya which runs 56,000 schools in rural India educating 1.5M children annually.
Currently, we are support through grants (60%), angel investments (30%) and revenue (10%). We expect to become profitable in mid 2019 at which point we will only be using our revenue as our source of of income.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Aakar Social Innovations, has different raw materials and a different business model. Whereas Saathi is developing a centralized, high-capacity manufacturing plant with the aim to output 3M pads per month, Aakar has invested in small-scale manufacturing units run by groups of rural women. Aakar's model makes it difficult to achieve impact on a large-scale because of the lengthy setup process and ongoing training required for each village.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
This idea came about when cofounder Amrita Saigal was working for Procter & Gamble in the feminine hygiene division and she spoke with her grandmother in India who mentioned that she had to miss school during her period growing up because she did not have access to adequate sanitary protection. Amrita found out this was still a problem in India today and hence Saathi was founded.
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