The Ahmedabad – based healthcare startup, Saathi, has made bio – degradable sanitary pads from banana fibers for the Indian consumer market. This startup was co – founded by three girls namely: Amrita Saigal, Grace Kane and Kristin Kagetsu. “Last year, we filed for a patent. The product has been developed in India and we started manufacturing in our own unit at Ahmedabad from October. The facility employs eight women partners”, said Kristin Kagetsu, cofounder of Saathi and a former hardware engineer at Oracle. She added that the primary customers for the company will be urban women, while the product would be sold at discounted rates for rural women. Read more on Healthcare Startups
Saathi’s sanitary pads are made from a different material when compared to commercial sanitary pads. Commercial sanitary pads are made from bleached wood pulp and contain a super absorbent polymer, which can sometimes cause skin irritation. Saathi makes sanitary pads from the fibers of discarded banana trees which is bio – degradable and thereby environment friendly. It does not cause skin irritation unlike commercial sanitary pads. Nearly twelve lakh acres of land are used for banana cultivation in India. After each harvest, farmers cut down and discard the old banana trees to plant new ones. Saathi uses the fiber from the stems of these discarded banana trees to make sanitary pads. It thus provides the farmers in India, additional income for their agro byproduct. Saathi’s environment friendly sanitary pads can decompose within six months and can also be used in the manufacture of biogas and compost.
“We are currently working on reducing costs by scaling production”, said Saigal. Saathi is also working with Arogya Foundation of India to distribute 10,000 units of its sanitary pads among women in rural Jharkhand, as a part of its ‘One Million Pads’ program. The startup is also looking to raise donations through the US based crowd funding platform, You Caring. “The best part is that the pads are biodegradable and can be composted, thus removing the trace of the product”, said Dr. Mukul Bhatia, national coordinator of Arogya Foundation of India. “The rural areas do not have proper waste disposable facility and thus it is important for women to dispose off the sanitary pads carefully”, Dr. Bhatia added. Saathi ranks among the top 20 in the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge, a joint initiative of IIM-Calcutta and Tata Group for early stage social enterprises.
Protecting the environment is equally important as making progress. The waste management system in India is very poor. Hence, people have to be careful when disposing non bio – degradable waste. Otherwise it will lead to soil pollution and will reduce the fertility of the land. Saathi has taken a good, environment friendly step in this regard. The Government of India must promote more of such useful and innovative startups. Read more on Startup News