Saathi, the first company to make a biodegradable sanitary pad from banana fibres, will soon start selling its unique product in urban markets. The Saathi sanitary pads, which are fully compostable as well, are currently being sold only in rural India through an NGO. From the end of 2017, the company will sell these pads directly from its website.
Saathi co-founder Amrita Saigal told Fibre2Fashion, “We did our first urban launch recently at the India environmental festival in Ahmedabad. We are going to start selling in urban India as well. We are selling in rural India every month. Over the course of the next year, we are going to continue selling at expos. Because right now we are manufacturing about 100,000 a month and all that is going to rural India, or at least the majority of it. And towards the end of this year, we are going to sell directly from our website.”
The biodegradable aspect of Saathi pads is the only difference. Saigal elaborated, “All the raw materials are sourced from India, and they are manufactured in India. So, they are India's first biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads. The thing is we want them to look and feel the same as Whisper, Stayfree or Carefree; so we spent a lot of time on R&D to make that happen.”
The Ahmedabad-based Saathi now wants to look at using other naturally available fibres. “In India, the banana fibre is very prevalent and there is no shortage. But let's say we want to expand beyond India, the banana fibre might not be available everywhere. We also want to be able to use locally available fibres like coconut, bamboo, sugarcane, etc. Second, we want to expand our product line to diapers, maternal pads and incontinence pads. We want to expand our materials as well as the product line.”
Three of the co-founders—Kristin Kagetsu, Grace Kane and Saigal—are from MIT; they studied mechanical engineering together. When they decided to move to India and set up their own company in early 2016, they met Tarun Bothra, a graduate from Nirma University. The four then started the company together. Right now, Saathi manufactures about 100,000 pads a month, and selling and distributing pads in rural India through its NGO partner Ekal Vidyalaya, which runs 50,000 schools in villages of rural India. The company also provides employment to eight women. (RB)
Click here to read the complete interview.
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