Bartering vegetables for sanitary pads

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Women in rural areas are being convinced of the hygiene benefits of using sanitary pads, now to the extent that “they even barter onions or tomatoes for low-priced pads”, declared A. Muruganantham at the recently concluded TiECon – Chennai 2012.

“But, I am not happy yet, as more than 90 per cent of the women in rural India are still using dirty rags, ashes, sand and dry leaves,” he said.

Social entrepreneur Muruganantham, a 10{+t}{+h} standard drop-out from a village near Coimbatore, who invented a low-cost machine for making sanitary pads, now dreams of installing 7,000 machines across the world. Talking about his experience on customer feedback, in a panel discussion at the conference, he said his first piece of feedback came in the form of a divorce notice. His wife was his first customer. His research into sanitary pads began after he realised that his wife was using some filthy rags. “For her, the choice was between buying sanitary pads for herself and my sisters or dinner for the entire family.”

One day, unaware of menstrual cycles, he gave his wife his prototype pad (made out of cotton), and demanded immediate test results. As it did not work out, he went on to present similar pads to girls in neighbouring colleges to test. Thinking that he was using “this technique” to get close to other women, his wife left him. “It took me almost four years to win her confidence back,” he said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line (link opens in a new window)

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