India as a country has always stood up for the betterment of its people. We are heading towards a better tomorrow with each passing day. The forces behind such constructive changes are countless but even a small endeavor in the direction of a better and safe environment in terms of health and hygiene counts!
This Startup Sunday features a startup powered by Enactus which aims to make the “Days for Girls” a little bit better in the rural areas with the help of the rural community itself making them Self Dependent. This being a classic example of Social Entrepreneurship, has a lot to learn for the readers in its kitty.
Startup-Sunday proudly introduces you to this Start-up which breaks the menstrual taboo and generates employment for many by being “for the women, by the women”.
Let us know more about the start-up in the co-founders’ own words:
What is Inaayat?
With ‘Inaayat’ meaning ‘a blessing’ in Urdu, this project comes as a blessing to the rural women who stitch sanitary napkin kits as well as the women who use them. It is a collaboration with an international organization ‘Days For Girls’. The Days For Girls, Inaayat’s expertise partner, has gotten these kits tried and tested by 8,00,000+ women in 110 countries including USA, Australia, Nepal, Africa.
It is dedicated to strengthening girls’ sense of dignity and self-esteem by making and providing sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions and health education. Inaayat’s vision is to ensure that every girl and woman will have ready, feasible access to reusable hygiene supplies.
What is the working model of Inaayat?
Inaayat has two aspects:
Manufacturing the sanitary napkins.
Train the trainer model wherein the women conduct menstrual hygiene training and further train them to train more women.
The whole process undergoes in the following way:
- An entrepreneur has been identified from amongst the rural community to manage the stitching center in Wada.
- The entrepreneur is trained in the capacity building along with business skills.
- The women ambassadors conduct menstrual hygiene sessions and the demand for the kits is forecasted in the community.
- Based on this, Enactus HR college procures raw material, which is directly transported to the production center in Wada.
- Rural women are employed under the entrepreneur to stitch kits, according to the technical skills imparted by Days for Girls.
- The entrepreneur trains these women beneficiaries in the packaging of kits and conducts quality checks.
- The finished kits are distributed to the target market.
The distribution of the kits is based on a market segmentation strategy for women, who have the economic capacity to pay Rs 250 upfront who have a limited capacity, these kits are provided to them at a subsidized price who do not have the economic capacity to purchase the kits, for them Enactus H.R. College collaborates with NGOs and Corporate partners who distribute these kits as part of their CSR venture.
What were the challenges faced during the initial stages?
The challenges faced during the launch of Inaayat was the procurement of the raw materials. The product required certain inputs which weren’t easily available in that area. To overcome this, raw materials were sourced from vendors in nearby states.
Another challenge was convincing rural women to discard their unhygienic menstrual supplies (such as-ash, rugs, banana leaves, used cloth) and use Inaayat’s product which is sterilized and sanitary.
The primary challenge, however, was to initiate a change in the attitude and perception toward menstruation among rural masses. Women were not comfortable to talk about periods because of the stigma around it. Through Inaayat’s educational and interactive sessions, an environment was created where women felt comfortable talking about periods and realized that it is not a taboo topic anymore.
What does Inaayat do differently from other organizations and competitors?
Menstrual hygiene sessions are conducted along with distribution of the kits in which awareness is created about menstrual hygiene among women in both Hindi and Marathi languages.
People are shown how to use the product and explained what each and every component is meant to be used for.
Unlike the competitors, Inaayat provides two shields and eight liners. So, depending on the flow, women can use as many liners as they are comfortable with.
The designs are unique and resemble a handkerchief, so they don’t have to hesitate while drying it out open after washing.
Inaayat provides employment to the women in villages by providing them machinery to stitch the sanitary napkins themselves.
What were the problems faced in the financial and marketing aspects?
Donations were received initially from the Impact India Foundation, mainly for machinery, and for production centers, later from Yuva Parivartan. Initial difficulties were mainly in production, for instance, teaching women how to stitch properly, handling the finances was also a major issue which included budgeting. Marketing the products, in the beginning, was a new concept, but through trial and error, a lot has been and has been passed on to the new members.
What is in store for Inaayat in the upcoming years?
In the next one year, Inaayat is aiming to create an online menstrual hygiene management session in 10 regional languages, thus spreading more awareness. Also create a network of women ambassadors, to break the stigma about menstruation in India.
Going forward, it plans to educate men and women about family planning to create awareness about informed choices.
Written by: Dikshita G PGDM 2019-21