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Hygiene Bucket Challenge for a Social Change*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - GSMC, 20 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Dr. Reshmi Manna - Associate Professor, IBS-Gurgaon

Case Preview

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 Bedekar 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...................

Genesis of Sakhi

To meet the emergency of women’s hygiene in rural India, Swati started awareness consultancy among women, but the response to the campaign was poor. Mere education was not driving women to come out of their shell and valiant enough to use sanitary napkins as good hygienic practice. High pricing of sanitary napkins was the primary barrier for them. A pack of 10 sanitary napkins would cost INR40-INR60 ($0.58-$0.88), which had been assumed as expensive for the lower socio-economic group. To afford the same for a girl child, parents were under pressure to cut down their household budgets to accommodate napkin’s price...............

Philosophy of Sakhi

The sanitary napkins were sold under the brand name “Sakhi”. Ladies working at Sakhi had played a crucial role in giving an appropriate brand name as “Sakhi” – which means “a friend”, a friend who helps them and stays with them during their periods. The napkins were designed to apply an adhesive fixing strip inside the undergarment to avoid dislocation...........

Philanthropy of Sakhi

Swati had always “wanted to develop a system of manufacturing sanitary napkins that would generate employment at every step”. Indian women had been popular for scarifies, selflessness. They value their family first and ignore themselves to extreme, however, other family members never appreciated their contributions towards family nurturing. Thus, women selected to work for Sakhi were mostly homemakers initially, but with the implementation of Swati’s project, they got an opportunity to earn money as well as a sustainable livelihood .................

Socializing Society

On September 25th 2014, Government of India launched an initiative called ‘Make in India’ which was inaugurated by honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to inspire multi-national and national companies to manufacture their products in India. But Swati was already into that mission since 2010 with a vision to empower women through hygiene and sanitation. She started her efforts even before the launch of Menstrual Hygiene Scheme 2010 by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.............

Hygiene Bucket Challenge

In August 2014, three young men living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) inspired the world to dump buckets of ice water on their heads to fight the disease that is progressively taking their lives, which became popular as ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. That inspired Swati on November 5th 2015 to launch the ‘Hygiene Bucket Challenge’ to fellow citizens (Exhibit IV) in association with Vatsalya Foundation to purchase and donate a bucket worth INR250 ($3.65) so that it provides the supply of sanitary napkins to the beneficiary girls and women for a year.............

Metamorphosing Human Mind About Waste

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 of used sanitary napkins in a hygienic way without causing much implication on the environment. Swati’s apprehension was due to expert’s report that sanitary napkins take approximately 500 and 800 years to get decompose...........

Business Strategies and Challenges

In the process of reaching more beneficiaries, Swati realized that she was not only into social service of helping Indian women for their hygienic lifestyle, but she was also into the business of selling Sakhi and Ashudinashak. She was involved in business with women living at rural and slum area and to an extent with potters who are involved in making incinerator. People involved in Swati’s project were acting as a catalyst within society in changing people’s mindset towards dealing with women menstrual hygiene and disposing the sanitary napkins without harming the mother nature. It was a mammoth challenging task for Swati and Shyam to change people mindsets though they had been endorsing the same for last 6 years with smile and dedication. There were other business challenges, which could be discussed under following heads: ...........

Road Ahead and Business Dilemma

Sakhi as a brand plans to work towards outcomes that would be life enhancing for women in the years ahead. The Sakhi Enterprise was planning more workshops and seminars needed to conduct and target youth in colleges and children in schools, to change human dissonance about menstrual hygiene, sanitary napkins and disposing of used napkins as waste in youth’s early stage of life. Shyam targeting more Ashudinashak model to install at different rural schools to encourage youth and children to participate in changing a human mindset towards menstrual process in women...........

Assignment Questions

I. What is social entrepreneurship? Can Sakhi Enterprise can be categorized as a social entrepreneur?
II. Was ‘Hygiene Bucket challenge’ enough for fund raising? What are the flaws in its strategic approach?
III. ..........

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Company Overview

Exhibit II: Sakhi Mandal as Manufacturer

Exhibit III: Swati Bedekar Displaying Sakhi Products

Exhibit IV: Hygiene Bucket Challenge

Exhibit V: Shyam Sunder Bedekar with Ashudhinashak, an Incinerator

Exhibit VI: Function of Ashudhinashak

Exhibit VII: Comparison of Sakhi and Other Substitute Products

Exhibit VIII: Sakhi Kioks at an Exhibition

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.


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* GSMC 2017, IIM Raipur

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