Startup Saturday: Pune’s ‘Pad Women’ Are Social Entrepreneurs On A Mission

By Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Namita Shibad takes a look at the challenges faced by the soroptomist’s club of Pune metro east which set out to solve the problem of providing affordable sanitary napkins to women in India.

Hindustan Times, New Delhi

It starts off with doing good. Which could be a good way to start a business, but often, social entrepreneurs get waylaid by their good intentions and that causes a business to fail.

In 2015, the soroptomist’s club of Pune metro east set out to solve the problem of providing affordable sanitary napkins to women in the villages of Maharashtra.

Anupama Sen, who is a pediatrician by profession and a member of the club was enthused by meeting Muruganathan, the man behind affordable sanitary napkins and whose life story has been made into the movie Pad Man.

“I understood from him how the process of making these biodegradable pads worked. At that time, women in Chennai’s prison used to make them. I thought why can’t we do this for the women in rural Maharashtra?” says Anupama.

Doctors used to conduct medical camps in Tulapur and Phulgaon villages on the banks of the river Bhima. With the help of the zilla parishad there she started a unit to manufacture these pads.

“We needed a simple machine, a mixer grinder to grind the pinewood pulp, a sterilizer, a wooden mold to press down the pads and a sewing machine.

All this was provided by the soroptimists. And they were in business,” says Anupama

“Initially we trained 10 women to operate and manufacture these machines. At that time each woman made 10 pads each. Then they slowly graduated to making 20 pads a day. The cost of making one pad was Re 1 and we sold it for Rs 2 since we had to invest in safety gear for these ladies and other operating costs.”

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