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Hygiene Bucket Challenge for a Social Change*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - GSMC, 20 Pages

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Hygiene Bucket Challenge for a Social Change

 

In India, menstruation cycles have always been perceived as taboos leading to ignorance and injustice towards women. The situation appeared to be more critical at rural precincts, where most women had been using old unhygienic cloth or rags as substitute to sanitary napkins. As a result, menstrual management and hygiene practice go awry, leaving women susceptible to reproductive organ ailments and cervical cancer. Knowing the problem, the question remained unanswered that who would initiate the change! Our history had been witnessing many people, who had dared to bring proactive changes in society. Swati Bedekar, one such Indians, through her hard work and dedication had changed the way people observe menstruation.

In the year 2010, Swati Bedekar1 who was then teaching at rural schools in Gujarat (India) discovered that teenage girls of that area were dropping out of school or takeing prolonged leaves once they hit menstruation cycle. Those girls were following the unhygienic practice of using old rags or leaves with mud, during their monthly cycles, which was exposing them to the risk of reproductive diseases. The concern led Swati to focus on correcting menstrual hygiene in rural Gujarat with the support of NGO Vatsalya Foundation. Finally, in 2010, Swati instituted Sakhi Entreprise (Exhibit I) to manufacture eco-friendly sanitary napkins for women who cannot afford one for themselves. She constituted a semi-automatic machine and trained rural women to use them in manufacturing affordable sanitary napkins. To sustain the menstrual hygiene awareness campaign, she designed ‘hygiene bucket challenge’ for all capable Indians, inspired by ‘ice bucket challenge’.

Background Note

In 2010, Swati Bedekar was working on education project to conduct Science and Maths modules at Panchmahal District in Gujarat to improve the educational levels of students in 500 government schools. Swati observed girls remained absent from their classes for five to six days in every month. The observation led Swati for consulting girl’s parent and concluded the reason for absenteeism was the menstrual cycle. As per Swati’s word “all the time when I was working in the interior part of the villages & tribal areas of Gujarat, while working on Science Education project in Tribal Schools; I noticed that girls were not coming to school. When I tried to find out the reason behind it, I got to know that either they were married or they reach the puberty”.2 On delving deeper into the rural practices of menstrual hygiene, Swati learnt that women who were uneducated and unaware of sanitary napkins were using leaves with mud, old rags, synthetic cloth pieces or any old cloth to maintain their menstruation flow. Since women were not maintaining proper hygiene, they were prone to numerous episodes of infections resulting in loss of work along with the increasing doctor’s bill. That was enough to deprive girl child from education which made Swati restless. She wants to do something for rural girls and women to adopt a secure and a hygienic practice to tackle their menstrual health. Swati being Secretary of Vatsalya Foundation decided to support women in adopting right menstrual hygiene through the philosophy of 3 As, viz., Adoptability, Accessibility and Affordabiity...................



1 Walia Shelly, “This machine to discard sanitary pads could make a huge difference to women’s health in rural India”, http://qz.com/557026/this-machine-to-discard-sanitary-pads-could-make-a-hugedifference- to-womens-health-in-rural-india/, November 24th 2015 (accessed date: October 24th 2016)

Teaching Note Preview

Hygiene Bucket Challenge for a Social Change

 

Synopsis

Sakhi Enterprise is one of the social entrepreneurships overseen by Swati Bedekar since 2010. While working for an educational project, Swati noticed that some of the girl students were dropping out of school or taking prolonged leaves once they hit menstruation cycle. Swati wanted to do something for those rural girls and make them aware about maintaining and managing menstrual cycles. She initially started replicating the manufacturing model of Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham to produce sanitary napkins at lower cost with support of NGO Vatsalya Foundation, later she revamped the machine with her husband’s support. In 2010, she started her own unit as Sakhi Enterprise to produce sanitary napkins and further she developed a concept of “Hygiene Bucket Challenge” to raise fund for her initiatives. In 2012, Swati’s husband Shyam Sunder Bedekar, invented a simple, cheap and environment-friendly machine, Ashudhinashak, an incinerator to allow women dispose their used sanitary napkins at the source level. Swati and Shyam products were gaining popularity within nation as well as overseas. Their revolution had taken a momentum in due course to change fellow citizen’s perception about menstrual hygiene and disposal of sanitary napkins.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understandings (PCUs)/Before the Classroom Discussion

The students/participants should be encouraged to read the following mandatory readings for an effective classroom disucssion:

  • • Bornstein, David and Davis, Susan. Social Entrepreneurship: what everyone needs to know. Canada, USA: Oxford University Press, April 16th 2010
  • • MacMillan, C., Ian and Thompson, D., James. The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook, Expanded Edition: Pressure test, plan, launch and scale your social enterprise. Cuba: Wharton Digital Press, November 12th 2013
  • • Kickul, Jill and Lyons, S., Thomas. Understanding social entrepreneurship: The relentless pursuit of mission in an ever changing world. Oxon, UK: Routledge, January 1st 2012

 

Case Positioning and Setting

Students opted for Entrepreneurship or Business Management studies in Courses like MBA, PGD in Business Management, PGD in Management, PG Programme of Management, etc. Also can be utilized for the course work of Executive MBA. The case is positioned for 2nd year students, who had opted entrepreneurship as a subject of specialization. The case can be best discussed for social entrepreneurship chapter. Case is also applied for students studying certification course on Entrepreneurship.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • To understand concept of social entrepreneurship
  • • To apply theoretical concepts of business model and understand the allied challenges encountered by social entrepreneurship
  • • To discuss critically about sustainability of social entrepreneurship

 

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Abstract

Sakhi Enterprise is a social enterprise founded by Swati Bedekar in the year 2010 based at Vadodara, Gujarat, India with an initial fund of INR3 lakh ($ 4380.17).1 Swati by profession was an educator who teaches Science and Maths module at different schools of rural Gujarat. To her surprise, Swati noticed that some girl students were dropping out of school or taking prolonged leaves once they hit menstruation cycle. Swati was determined to do something for those rural girls, to make them aware about menstrual hygiene and assist them to maintain the menstrual flow in hygienic way by using sanitary napkins, instead of following traditional practice of using old rags or leaves with muds. She initially started replicating the manufacturing model of Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham to produce sanitary napkins at lower cost with support of NGO Vatsalya Foundation. But Muruganantham machines had certain limitations, with respect to raw material. Thus, Swati revamped the machine and contracted a local supplier for alternative raw material.

In 2010, she started her own unit as Sakhi Enterprise to produce sanitary napkins and further she developed a concept of “Hygiene Bucket Challenge” to raise fund for her initiatives. Manufacturing sanitary napkins, generating employment for women and making women’s life hygienic were not the only social changes that Swati was looking forward. Cleanliness is next to godliness was the second challenge for Swati to dispose the used sanitary napkins in a hygienic way without causing much implications on the environment. In 2012, Swati’s husband, Shyam Sunder Bedekar, who studied textile chemistry and engineering in Vadodara invented a simple, cheap and environment-friendly machine, Ashudhinashak, an incinerator to allow women dispose their used sanitary napkins at the source level. Swati’s and Shyam’s products were gaining popularity within nation and overseas as well. But with time, Swati never realized her transformation from being a social activist to a social entrepreneur. That has put her into a dilemma of whether to work as a social activist to create awareness about menstrual hygiene or as a social entrepreneur. In spite of all the challenges, Swati and Shyam realized that the revolution they had started, in the due course had taken a momentum in shifting fellow citizen’s perception about menstrual hygiene and disposing of sanitary napkins, that is the reason they are at the center of discussion.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the concept of Social Entrepreneurship
  • To apply theoretical concepts of business model and understand the allied challenges encountered by social entrepreneurship
  • To discuss critically about sustainability of social entrepreneurship

Case Positioning and Setting

Students opted for Entrepreneurship or Business Management studies in Courses like MBA, PGD in Business Management, PGD in Management, PG Programme of Management etc. Also can be utilized for the course work of Executive MBA. The case is positioned for 2nd year students, who had opted entrepreneurship as a subject of specialization. The case can be best discussed for social entrepreneurship chapter. Case is also applied for students studying certification course on entrepreneurship.


1 As of November 2016, $1 was approximately equal to INR68.49

* GSMC 2017, IIM Raipur

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