Over 88% women in India use unhygienic clothes in their menstrual periods. They can’t afford sanitary napkins that are currently available in market. A. Muruganantham, a school dropout due to poor economic condition made a low cost napkin making machine over a research of 4 years. His machine can be operated by village women and can be installed on small scale. The cost of napkin that comes out from his machine is around 1.5-2 rupees and its quality is comparable to napkins that are currently supplied by MNCs like P & G (whisper) and J & J (stay free).
After dropping out from school at early age Muruganantham started to work as a helper in a workshop to support his family. He was a great lover of science from his school days so he kept doing innovations in the workshop as well.
One day when he came back from the workshop he saw his wife carrying a piece of nasty cloth. He asked about the cloth. But his wife answered him that it was none of his business. On further request he found that she was using it as a napkin. Muruganantham asked the reason for not using sanitary napkin and got a reply that if she and other women in houses started using those; they would have to cut their milk budget. This incident worked like a hammer for Muruganantham and made him realize that the cost factor of available napkin is making it unaffordable for rural women. So he thought to make napkins by himself.
He started his work with cotton napkins and gave a napkin to his wife for testing. After testing wife rejected it and told that her cloth using method was better than the napkin created by him. Muruganantham tried hard again and again. He contacted college girls for feedback as well, which was a very difficult task. He sent commercially available napkins to various labs to find out what material was being used by MNCs. He found that they were using cellulose in place of cotton. So he started to make napkins from cellulose.
The machine that make napkin in MNCs cost around 35 million. Muruganantham invented low cost assembly machines that cost around 65000 and can make 2 napkins in a minute by four persons working in assembly. Muruganantham also got patent for his machine.
His machine can be used by any small scale entrepreneur (it may be a group of rural women as well). Initial investment comes around 1 lakh and within 18-20 months cost can be recovered. 7,000 rural women got employed by his innovation yet and 2.5 million women shifted from unhygienic rag cloth method to hygiene sanitary napkin method.
When asked about an advice to people who are working as social entrepreneur he tells that only 20% of world market are taped by corporate and rest 80% can be taped by social entrepreneurs.
Muruganantham says that he wants to create a million jobs for rural women by this innovation. Currently only 5% of rural women are using sanitary napkins, so there is vast scope in this sector and since his innovation is based on gandhian philosophy of small scale development, it will also make villages self-reliant.