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India is a country of 1.3 Billion people. Out of which, 48% (approx) of them (660 million+) are women. Talking about the statistical data of years of early and mid 2011, only 12% of women had access to sanitary pads during their menstruation cycle. The rest of the 88% of them do not have access to sanitary napkins, as a result they were using ashes, sand husks, newspaper, and dry leaves during their menstruation period. More than 70% of women suffer from reproductive tract infections, increasing the risk of contracting associated cancers.
The situation was getting worse back then until a man with a golden heart and a brilliant mind came to rescue his country, and also helped a number of countries to live a healthier life.
Arunachalam Muruganantham, popularly known as PADMAN, is a founder of Jayaashree Inventories. From a poor background in the South of India, he created the world’s first low-cost machine to produce sanitary napkins at a low cost so that it can be sold at a low price.
The role of education and knowledge is well expressed by Mr. Muruganantham and his team.
In India, 1 out of 5 girls drop out of school when they reach puberty due to lack of access to sanitary pads. Of the remaining girls, everyone of them misses 5 school days a month due to the lack of access to sanitary pads during menstruation. Jayaashree Industries exists to eliminate these statistics.
Reclaiming the fibers into usable cellulose, Muruganantham discovered, required a machine costing more than £300,000. “I decided to make a simple version of this machine, to re-engineer it,” he says. It took him more than four years of trial and error to fabricate one in his workshop.
Currently more than 1,300 machines made by his start-up company- Jayaashree Industries, are installed across all states in India and many other countries. Within the next year Jayaashree Industries is planning on expanding to 100 countries. In spite of numerous offers, Muruganantham refuses to sell his innovation to the corporate world. “I didn’t take the money route because I saw my parents struggle for survival,” he explains. “I knew that this machine could provide a sustainable livelihood for many rural women.”
Maybe it's about time that global multinationals took a cue from this grassroots innovator and aspired to bridge the affordability gap in sanitary protection. This innovation turned out to be a boon to more than 1 million women. Today, they not only are able to afford the sanitary pads made by Muruganatham's machines, but also they've gained employment opportunities.
Arunachalam Muruganantham's invention came at great personal cost - he nearly lost his family, his money, and his place in society. But he kept his sense of humour.
He was newly married and his world revolved around his wife, Shanthi, and his widowed mother. One day he saw his wife was hiding something from him. He was shocked to discover what it was - rags, "nasty cloths", which she used during menstruation.
It was very dirty. When he asked her why she didn't use sanitary pads, she pointed out that if she bought them for the women in the family, she wouldn't be able to afford to buy milk or run the household.
Later, he did some research and found that less than 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads. He also found out that 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, which in turns affect maternal mortality.
These problems inspired Mr. Muruganantham to innovate the machine that cannot only help women to live a healthy life, but also give them employment opportunities.
Improvement of Health:
The women, who used to use the coconut husk, ashes, and sand as a substitute to sanitary pads are now able to afford and use the sanitary pads made by Mr. Muruganantham's machines.
They no longer have to fight with the severe diseases and infections. Today, they're not only a customer of the sanitary pads, but also an influencer. "If you educate a woman, you'll educate a family".
Assured Lifelong Employment:
This is the beginning. This project is started not by the women, but for the women and to the women. Today, one million jobs have already been created in India for the poorest women of this part of the world. With the future projects coming in, more than 10 million jobs are being created.
There was hardly any Indian players in the market. Because of his innovation, he created a totally different market for himself. His business was B2B and then whoever buys his product will get a chance to be an entrepreneur by hiring 10 people under them. So, he created a win-win situation for everyone.
Going towards the business benefits of this company, Jayaashree Industries is a well settled company- which once was a startup. The company has already sold 1300+ machines. The company is running on 0% debt.
Until today he has done all what was promised, he's now planning to expand his business in a bulk. He's expanding his business to 106 countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. He's expanding his plant size as well, so in coming years Jayaashree Industries will be among the top profit earning companies of the country.
In 2019, the documentary "Period. End of sentence" won the Oscar for short documentary. It featured the invention and the inventor, Mr. Muruganantham. The documentary revolves around the machine that is installed in a village in India.
Global Authentication: Jayaashree Industries is now recognized globally. In fact, the CEO (and founder) of Jayaashree Industries, Mr. Murugatham, is in the likes of Narendra Modi, Barack Obama, Serena Williams, Ronaldo, Xi Jinping, Jeff Bezos, Malala, Shinzo Abe, Beyonce, Putin, Arundhati Roy, Hilary Clinton etc.
Social Benefits: this innovation not only helped women, but also broadened the pie. In India, women use to feel shy to go to the nearest shop to buy sanitary pads before. Today, millions of women are selling them for their livelihood. So, the whole taboo about mensuration and sanitary pads is gone now.
Girls can go to their school and women can go to their work without any trouble. Hundreds of awards are presented to this company to date and a lot more, yet to come.
Anand Brian, Employee
Arunachalam Muruganantham, Founder
It's said that, " You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime." Jayaashree Industries is a company, established in 2006, with a main motive to help the women to provide sanitary napkins at a price that they can afford. It's secondary motive is women empowerment.
After Arunachalam Muruganantham (founder) won the first prize in the contest in IIT Madras for an innovation competition in 2006, with financial assistance of Rs. 1.5 millions from IIT Madras and National Innovation Foundation - Ahmedabad, he set up his sanitary napkin manufacturing unit in Coimbatore in 2006.
Most of Muruganantham's clients are NGOs and women's self-help groups. If the same types of machines that manufacture sanitary pads are to be imported to India, it would have cost them more by 10 times the price of Muruganantham's price. His machines are priced in between 40,000($ 570.20) – 3, 00,000 ($ 4276.5). Each machine converts 3,000 women to pad usage, and provides employment for 10 individuals. They can produce 200-250 pads a day which sell for an average of about 2.5 rupees (£0.025) each.
Women choose their own brand-name for their range of sanitary pads, so there is no over-arching brand - it is "by the women, for the women, and to the women".