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The Asan menstrual Cup, designed and engineered at Harvard Innovation Lab in the United States, adheres to the highest international quality and safety standards to ensure the best period care for women. Given the limited availability of menstrual cups, particularly in rural areas, Asan launched a 'buy one, donate one' campaign in collaboration with women's health NGOs working in rural areas of South India. Asan essentially exists to bring the world's best quality period care to those in greatest need, as well as to share responsibility for making the world a greener place.
What makes the product offered by Asan so innovative is their focus on quality and the mission of their company.
The menstrual cup offered is designed and engineered from scratch with the help of state-of-the-art technology in some of the finest universities in the world. The product was developed over the course of 2 years in the Harvard Innovation Lab with the help of grants and prices that Ms. Guha and her team had won from different pitch competitions. Four rounds of user trials with women from diverse socio-economic backgrounds ensured the exceptional quality and maximum comfort the product offers. Everything from the material used to the innovative design was done with thorough due diligence and deliberation to ensure the best experience for the users while also fully taking into account the longevity of the product so that it is sustainable in the long run.
The mission of Asan is to eliminate period poverty and provide sanitary care for those who can't afford it. This is achieved through their 'one to one' scheme where they give away one cup for every cup that is purchased.
Ira Guha, the founder of Asan Menstrual Cups, is a social entrepreneur fighting the stigma attached to menstruation in poor society women, pollution caused by sanitary waste, and revolutionising how the fairer sex deals with their periods by promoting the use of menstrual cups. She has accomplished all of this at the age of 28!
Ira's moment of genius came five years ago, when she discovered that a maid on her parents' household staff was suffering from urinary infections and rashes as a result of the use of cheap sanitary pads. "I was shocked at the poor quality of the sanitary product. I myself had preferred menstrual cups since an early age". She wasted no time in suggesting the same to the ailing woman.
It was an instant hit with the woman, and when she realised how useful and functional the cups were, she asked Ira for more to share with her family. At that time, Ira used to purchase ten of the cups for almost three hundred dollars, a price that wasn’t sustainable for the domestic workers amongst whom the cups were gaining popularity.
And thus, her idea became a reality. She spent over two years researching and developing the "Asan Cup" as a student at Harvard University's Kennedy School. Ira developed an easy-to-use, durable, and long-lasting cup that outperforms every other hygienic product in its category after numerous trials and iterations. The best part is that it is available to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
Asan, as a brand, aims to provide menstrual cups to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid, thereby bringing about a change that affects the most vulnerable parts of society. They give back to society by donating one cup for every one sold, contributing not only to cleaner and safer environments but also to society by making a difference in poverty eradication.
As we all know, the majority of women in India work, particularly the low-income group, and their absence from work due to poor sanitation during periods affects not only their household income but also the overall economy of the country. They make an effort to uplift women up during their periods without making them feel inferior to working men. They are bringing about long-awaited change and having an impact on women's safety.
Asan also covers many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make a major impact on society:
1. No Poverty: Asan cup is letting the women participate in the economic activity, whether it’s going to work, going to school. Also, the money women spend on sanitary napkins pads every month is also reduced.
2. Good Health and Well Being: The cup has high safety standards which can lead to safe period care and eventually much better health outcomes like prevention from UTI, infection and also reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
3. Quality Education: They are educating the women regarding the proper and safer Sanitation and helping them attend school and colleges without worrying about improper period care.
4. Gender Equality: Since the women are equally participating in the activities even during their periods with the usage of Asan cups, bringing about gender equality by not letting period care affect their work-life.
5. Clean Water and Sanitation: Since their overall mission is to work towards period sanitation care, they work towards this SDG as well.
6. Decent Work and Economic growth: The usage of cups enable women to enter the workforce and earn for their household income and towards the overall economic growth of the country.
7. Sustainable Cities and Communities: Since the pads after usage are non-compostable and non-recyclable, they are disposed of in a landfill for more than 500 years, leading to a lot of infection and uncleanliness and since its then since that waste is pickup by women, it can lead to health hazards.
The Asan cup is bringing about the change and reducing a lot of this wastage since it can be used for up to 10 years.
8. Responsible Consumption and Production: The alternative to the Asan cup is sanitary pads. If we look at the life cycle of sanitary pads, the production of so many pads in an industry requires a lot of electricity and also produces a lot of carbon emissions. Then it is packaged in single-use plastic packaging. We buy it and use it for 6 hours and then throw it away. Since sanitary napkin is non-compostable and non-recyclable, it piles up in landfill and is there for 500 years. Whereas in the case of the Asan cup, one cup is used for 10 years by a woman thereby portraying responsible consumption and production.
Asan is a social enterprise that uses its profits to make one-to-one donations. Previously, it cost $30 to bring one cup to India, which was prohibitively expensive, but the company's research and development resulted in the development of a well-engineered superior cup that was easy to remove, clean and had a 10-year lifespan at an affordable price. The company's goal is to eliminate period poverty by focusing on rural Indian women at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
India is the brand's primary focus because it has the lowest economic participation wage for girls. Profits are generated by selling to thousands of women in the United States, the United Kingdom and some parts of India. The company intends to expand by raising equity investment and launching the product in other parts of Europe, with the proceeds going toward providing needed sanitary care to those who cannot afford it. The company also intends to focus on marketing by partnering with people who are interested in making a positive social impact on society. The company plans further to place its product on pharmacy shelves, as it is currently only available for purchase on online platforms.
As of now, Asan offers two products: the Asan menstrual cup and the menstrual cup cleaner. The former is available in two variations: light/medium flow and heavy flow, with both costing the same amount, 1800 INR. The cleaner costs 400 INR. The sale of these products generates enough profit for the company to be able to focus on its mission of donation and providing menstrual education in villages through partnerships with NGOs without relying on charity or funds.
An Asan menstrual cup can be reused for up to ten years. As the cost per period cycle is about ₹15 for Asan cups and approximately ₹200 for sanitary pads, if we are taking into consideration the period of a year, the total cost for 10 years would amount to ₹24000, which is almost 13 times to that of Asan cup.
Asan Cups has been doing incredible work for the support and upliftment of safe period health care among different communities in India. Asan works with NGOs that provide health care and education to all the segments of the society about mensural health education, learning about your body, and how to use this product.
They work in villages and slums to spread awareness. They don’t just sell the product but take a holistic approach towards the upliftment of society. They work in every different language, partner with incredible women NGOs who have decades of experience and have been working for a long time in villages, and have the trust of the women. They work step by step. Initially, they give cups to the women working in the NGO, help them for almost three months, give them advice and education about how to use them. After that, they reach out to social workers and Anganwadi workers of the villages, who then use the cups and spread the awareness to others around them.
Asan Cups are not only sustainable in nature but environmentally friendly as well. Unlike sanitary napkins or tampons, they do less damage to the surrounding with life span of almost 10 years. With this life span, they are saving our environment with a lot of plastic.
Ira Guha, Founder and CEO
Asan, which was originally a Persian word, is now used in many languages to mean easy or worry-free. Asan was founded on the belief that no one should ever have to worry about access to safe and high-quality period care, no matter where they live on the planet.
Asan exists for three reasons: to bring you the highest quality period care available anywhere in the world; to make our products available to those in greatest need; and to share responsibility for making the world a greener place.