100% Biodegradable & Compostable Sanitary pads made from Banana fiber
We have developed 100% eco friendly all natural pads from banana fiber which have mapct in 3 major areas Social, Health and Environment.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
In India 84% of women lack pads access. Many women use cloths, bark & ash to stem bleeding, which exposes them to risk of infection. Improvised alternatives are uncomfortable, unreliable and lack adequate absorbency making difficult for women to manage work or school while on period. Key problem Saathi addresses is to improve lives of women without creating negative environmental impact. Small percentage of women using pads generates 100k+ tons of waste/year which could rise to 1000000+ tons if pads were used by all women of menstruating age.Plastic pads degrade in 600 years & generate CO2 and toxic fumes when burned.
Saathi has developed 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pad made from banana fiber which is one of the most absorbent natural fibers and abundant in India. Unlike wood pulp or cotton, it is an agricultural by-product and does not 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.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
We have two types of customers:
Middle & upper class urban women
NGOs that purchase our pads to distribute among women in villages.
Our business model is to sell pads at a premium in urban India and use that to sell our pads at cost in rural India. Our all-natural pads do not contain bleach or chemicals to minimize skin irritation & release of toxins into environment upon disposal. Because they are natural materials, they are comfortable & don’t cause rashes. Additionally we don’t use bleach- a carcinogenic chemical. Cervical cancer is one of the potential side effects of being exposed to dioxins over a long period of time & India has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer. We have surveyed hundreds of women to determine that they care about their health as well as environment. In addition to health benefits of all natural materials, they are concerned that the pads & packaging do not contain plastics or other materials that will not degrade in the environment.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
The only other notable “eco-friendly” pad maker in the market, Aakar, has different raw materials which are not 100% compostable & different micro scale business model. Whereas we are developing centralized, high-capacity plant. They focus on selling machinery not on product. organyc is a leading eco-friendly brand in urban market but it’s imported, so it doesn’t generate local jobs & their product is made with cotton, which when farmed uses 6x the water and 10x the fertilizer as bananas. Saathi brings a compostable product mass-market that is accessible to women across income levels and benefits the local economy. We ultimately plan to reach the mass market and also to be in the US/Europe when our scale up production is complete. In terms of quality, Aakar’s pads are much lower quality and they are much smaller as well. organyc pads are of high quality and they are much smaller as well. organyc pads are of high quality but more costly because they are imported.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
Saathi is a social enterprise and manufacturing company that makes eco-friendly hygiene products. Founded by 4 graduates from MIT (US), Harvard and Nirma.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
I was passionate about making a product that impacts women and had previously commercialized and launched sustainable natural-dye crayons made by local artisans in Uttarakhand, India. I was looking for an opportunity to explore sourcing natural eco-friendly materials for the sanitary pads to make a product that not only positively impacted women but also were good for the environment. Our team has business, technical, and local expertise to develop new products and set up manufacturing.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Saathi has built impact into the core of business. From raw materials to disposal, every aspect has incorporated impact. We use for-profit model to meet environmental & social mission. Saathi buys agri waste from banana tree farmers to use as raw material & employs underprivileged women to manufacture pads. The banana farmers receive an additional income where they normally would have just thrown the tree stems on the side of the road. Pads are sold to urban women at a premium price on Saathi’s online distribution channel, which subsidizes sales to rural women via NGO partners. Women experience a rash-free & more comfortable period due to the natural materials used in the pad. We also ensure that rural women receive a high-quality, comfortable, and stress-free product. They also don’t have to worry about disposal. As product is made from compostable materials, it degrade 1200 times faster than conventional pads and return to the earth without any harm
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
Saathi began in 2015, when its four co-founders, Kristin Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal, and Grace Kane - graduates of MIT, Harvard and Nirma University - came together on a mission to create fully eco-friendly, compostable sanitary napkins using locally sourced banana fiber from the state of Gujarat, where Saathi is based
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 expertise 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
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Set up medium scale manufacturing unit in Ahmedabad from scratch
Strong team of Mechanical engineers from MIT & Nirma University, Excellent R&D & leadership
Cheaper than other health/eco alternative products
Pivoted business from originally focusing on low cost pad making machines to premium eco-friendly product that would be suitable for both the urban and rural market
First to market in India
Passionate about mission & committed to finding eco-friendly, zero waste, sustainable solution
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
We are already in market and started generating revenue
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)