BRAC's Sanitary Napkin initiative for poor

Trip Start Jan 23, 2009
Trip End Jan 30, 2009

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

BRAC's Sanitary Napkin initiative for poor & unreached
We visited BRAC's sanitary napkin manufacturing unit on 27th January 2009 near Manik Gonj. This is another remarkable and touching effort of BRAC.

Ms. Shruti Gonsalves, Head-Capacity Building Team of FWWB made this entry. Many thanks to Shruti... 
I am glad agreed to Niranjan's suggestion of entering the details for this aspect of BRAC's visit.
The very fact that a livelihood focussed MFI/ NGO like BRAC whose approach towards poverty alleviation is establishing backward and forward linkages which fosters development at the grass root level, to establish a production center for Sanitary Napkins is a matter of natural progression.
One of BRAC's initiative is towards Community development is to enrol the entire village population into the Health and Hygiene awareness program. Of course, it is not compulsory for anyone but rather it is more of participative approach where Health volunteers are selected from within the community after the initial orientation program and awareness campaigns.
Through such work at  Village Organization's i.e. the Village Organisation, it was felt by the management at BRAC to start a production unit for Sanitary Napkins which is entirely run and managed by the members with administrative inputs from BRAC enterprise team. As part of BRAC's mandate of establishing Backward and Forward linkages, the requisite infrastructure for such a production unit was available at the Regional level. The BRAC horticulture center at Gazipur had space sufficient for setting up a 3-4 room production department, one room for sterilisation process of the finished goods and 1 room allocated for packaging and one room for storing the finished goods which than gets distributed to retail outlets.
BRAC's objective of providing a total solution for personal hygiene to women of poor households across the country seems to have been partially addressed through the Sanitary Napkin Enterprise. It provides income generation to local members, addresses the issue of low-cost but hygienically manufactured products and also provide the distribution network for sales to materialise.
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hemanth kumar on

Now you can make better napkins at low cost -see details;

The invention and the Idea.

National award wining New Invention Mini sanitary Napkin making Machine:

Idea in more depth:

After taking four years painful research, A.Muruganantham (46) has designed, created, tested and implemented a sanitary napkin-making machine that operates on a small scale. Contrary to a large-scale production model which requires Rs.3.5 Crores as initial investment,Muruganantham's sanitary napkin-making machine can be made available to a buyer for approximately Rs.65,000. This allows smaller players to adopt the business model propagated by him, and thus generates more employment and wealth in the most neglected sections of society.

More specifically, an empowerment forum - such as a Self Help Group or a women's group - can invest in a sanitary napkin-making unit to create a business that employs up to ten women.
The new invention is capable to make 120 napkins per hour

This new invention mini sanitary napkin making machine awarded the best innovation national award by President of India Prathiba Patil on 18th Nov,09 at New Delhi.

Muruganantham's model:

1) Builds a viable and sustainable enterprise that can be run efficiently by the stakeholders at the grassroots.
2) Delivers an essential commodity - the sanitary napkin - to poor women at affordable rates without compromising on the raw material used (which is not the unviable cotton) or quality of the product as compared to the multinationals. This is an extremely crucial development and can be viewed as a breakthrough in positive social engineering.
3) Reduces the players involved in the supply chain - the third person to handle the product (from its inception) is the consumer.
4) Thereby makes optimal use of the micro-credit generated by a community.

The technology used is simple and non-chemical. In fact, the machine uses purely mechanical processes such as grinding and de-fibration, pressing and sealing to convert the raw material - high-quality pine wood pulp - into a napkin.

Overall, the sanitary napkin-making machine is Muruganantham's first
attempt at harnessing technology for the benefit of the underprivileged. Once the organization achieves its current goals to expand and propagate its invention, it would refocus to its core competency - inventing the Next Big Thing.

.One sentence best describes About the idea?

Sanitary napkins produced in a "Small is Beautiful" model can deliver livelihood, hygiene and dignity to poor women, and help them strengthen society.

What problem or issue does the idea address?

1) Millions of women around the world cannot afford sanitary napkins, mainly because they're manufactured using expensive machinery and thus priced at a premium. Such women resort to an older and cheaper alternative - a piece of cloth or rag. This is an unhygienic alternative and can cause vaginal infections, skin irritations and embarrassing stains in public. But by reducing the unit price of a napkin, Muruganantham's model enables women to switch over to napkins - dignity must never be unaffordable.
2) A light-weight and voluminous product like the sanitary napkin introduces high transportation cost. This model allows local production and thus solves the problem.
3) Muruganantham's model addresses the issue of rampant unemployment amongst the poor in rural, urban and semi-urban areas of all developing nations.
4) Overall, Muruganantham's model offers livelihood, hygiene, dignity and empowerment to women all over the world. And it does so using a sustainable business framework.

Muruganantham has obtained a patent for his innovation Over 125 such machines have been delivered which are now functioning in 14 states of India also he is getting enquiry by various countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya Uganda, Nepal and Bangladesh, but he does not want to make it a commercial affair though only the technology would be passed on to them.

For More Clarification:

A.Muruganantham, 577, KNG Pudur Road, Somayampalaym,
Coimbatore 641018 Cell: 92831 55128, 94422 24069

Niranjan Sheelavant on

Wow!! Such a great piece of information. Thanks Mr. Hemanth.

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