[India] By the women, for the women

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Avik Das – Times of India – Thursday, 23 May 2013 (originally published 21 May)

For a group of women in Khagra, Berhampur, the next month will bring with it the promise of a changing fortune. They have their business plan – to manufacture low-cost biodegradable sanitary napkins – ready. Their target consumers are in desperate need of the product. They are now just waiting for Sombodhi Ghosh and Jaydeep Mandal, founders of Aakar Innovations, to arrive with the indigenous machine to start production.

For city youths Ghosh and Mandal, it will be a sort of homecoming. After working extensively in the backward regions of Bengal, they had left the state to acquire the expertise to work at the grassroots level and do something for the society. Years of experimentation bore fruit when they – with the help of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Innovation Foundation – finally devised a machine to manufacture biodegradable sanitary napkins using agri-wastes as raw materials.

“We’ll supply the machines to women in villages, set up production centres, supply raw materials, provide technical support and also guide them with marketing outreach. They will benefit from the profit the company generates. Today, I am ready with a business plan to reach out to 6 million rural women in the next five years and create 10,000 jobs,” said a confident Mandal . . .

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