Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

What is the name of your solution?

Saathi - sustainable menstruation, a right for all

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

At Saathi, we are addressing menstrual health and the plastic pollution crisis in India by making 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads from banana and bamboo fiber that are good for you, the community, and the environment.

Film your elevator pitch.

What is your solution?

At Saathi, we are addressing menstruators' health and the plastic pollution crisis by making 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads from banana and bamboo fiber that are good for you, the community, and the environment. 

We use our novel patented technology to convert banana and bamboo agriwaste products to sanitary pads that are good for the body, the community, and the environment. We have multiple positive social and environmental impacts packed in every step of our high impact supply chain. As we source our raw materials directly from farmers, we are able to provide them additional income they would have otherwise simply thrown away. As the banana fiber is extracted in their farms, all the water that comes out of the extracting process is used as natural pesticide, thus encouraging a culture of organic farming. 

The raw material is then sent to our zero-waste, all-women-run manufacturing unit. We employ women from underserved communities and train them in the required skills along with teaching them about the importance of menstrual hygiene. These women then go to their own communities and become centers of MHM education while also providing accessibility to affordable, sustainable, and healthy menstrual hygiene products. 

After all of this the product is sent to our urban customers, whose purchases help us subsidize our rural distribution- thus making sustainable menstrual products accessible for all. 

In our rural distributions, as our products are 100% compostable as well, menstruators simply need to bury the products after usage. Saathi’s pads are easier to accept and adopt in most communities as they can be buried. This makes disposal very easy as opposed to having to discreetly burn used pads, or fearing that they will be dug up later by a stray animal or kids playing around. We started our One Millions Pads Initiative in 2017 with a goal to distribute at least 1 million pads to menstruators in rural areas and in underserved communities. As of 2022 we are proud to say we completed that goal and have since begun our Ten Million Pads Initiative, with the new aim of distributing 10 million pads. These distributions are accompanied by education around MHM as required by the local population, thus increasing access and education around MHM, along with raising awareness about alternatives to plastic menstrual products  

Aside from this, we also have a program on plastic avoidance as featured in our WEF article, which is industry agnostic and fills the void that the current plastics credits in the market leave when it comes to addressing the source of the plastic pollution problem.  

What specific problem are you solving?

More than 60% of women and girls in India do not have access to menstrual products. 60% of women experience Urinary Tract Infections in their lifetimes, while 23M girls drop out of school annually due to the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and proper sanitation facilities. As if these effects were not bad enough, India alone is responsible for 21.8B disposable plastic pads polluting the environment every year. With 1.8B people menstruating around the world every single month, it is extremely crucial to think of sustainable solutions to menstruation while also taking into consideration the ground realities of local communities

Menstrual cups or cloth pads are often offered as solutions, however, they tend to only work well in a few selected areas where there is more openness about menstruation. When it comes to menstrual cups, there are many cultural and social taboos around inserting something in the vagina. Menstrual cups are also not a viable solution for all due to anatomical or psychological restrictions.  With cloth pads, the issue becomes one of proper disinfection of the pad after use. Due to shame and stigma, these pads are not not dried in proper sunlit and aerated areas for fear of being seen, leading to the growth of bacteria on these pads. 

The stigma around menstruation has also allowed menstrual product companies to go unchecked in terms of what kinds of chemicals they use to make their pads, using toxic chemicals without any need for accountability. With the vulva being one of the most permeable surfaces of the human body, this incredulous irresponsibility is bewildering. Unfortunately, the “good quality pads” are not affordable to all sections of the society even if they are made accessible. Many menstruators also do not have proper education or awareness about proper Menstrual Hygiene Management as it is not a topic openly talked about. In some places the basic knowledge of how to use a pad is also not there because these are remote areas which do not have access to such pads, and it follows, no education on how to use them or why they should be used even when they are made accessible. 

The above-mentioned issues of accessibility, availability, affordability, awareness, and education need to be addressed together, yet the stigma around menstruation discourages any sort of discussion around this issue, even when it is concerning the health of the individual. Menstruators thus suffer in silence. We cannot wait for societal perceptions all around the world to change in order to make sustainable and healthy menstruation accessible for all. 

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our solution serves menstruators, both Indian and globally. 

We currently divide our menstruators into two categories, which are urban menstruators, and menstruators from rural or underserved communities. 

By selling to urban menstruators, we are able to provide them with healthy menstrual management products that will not give them rashes, UTIs, and RTIs at a more affordable rate as compared to other products that claim to also provide a healthy period experience. Saathi’s pads can also be seen as a long-term investment in health, where our customers are using products that have no toxic chemicals or plastics, thus also decreasing their visits to the gynecologists for problems that often arise from using commercial plastic pads. Thus, our urban customers are able to get a choice that is good for their health and that is also good for the environment. Through the purchase of Saathi products, they also help in alleviating period poverty as we have a unique Robinhood business model. Essentially, through the purchases made by our urban customers, we are able to subsidize our rural distribution. 

Hence we come to our second target audience, which is rural menstruators. Along with providing pads in distribution drives and at subsidized rates, we take a holistic approach by also providing awareness and education around basic MHM and the benefits of using a sustainable product. To our rural audience, we are able to provide

  • awareness and education around MHM- why it is important, what periods are, what pads are, how to use them, how to manage periods in a healthy way, why periods are not something to be ashamed of or to be thought of as dirty, and so on. 

  • accessibility to sustainable and healthy menstrual products- both in terms of having a constant supply available at local health centers and in terms of being able to afford these products as they are sold at subsidized rates after our distribution drives are over. 

As part of our One Million Pads Initiative mentioned above, to understand the impact Saathi pads had on the local population, Saathi did a year-long pilot program along with 2 other partners in rural Jharkhand, India. We observed the following changes during our baseline and end-line survey: 

  • Baseline survey results for Menstrual Hygiene Practices: 
  1. 43% used only cloth
  2. 16% used a combination of sanitary pads and cloth
  3. 36.85% changed menstrual absorbent every 4 hrs at home

Endline survey results for Menstrual Hygiene Practices:

  1. 4% used only cloth
  2. 53 % used a combination of sanitary pads and cloth
  3. 68.15% changed menstrual absorbent event 4 hrs at home 

Along with this we also saw positive results like a decrease in experience of UTI and RTI symptoms, increased social mobility on days of menstruation, and lower environmental impact of periods. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Kristin Kagetsu has always been passionate about empowering girls and women in a holistic and real-world manner from a young age. As an undergrad, she worked on multiple projects with the MIT Design Lab (D-Lab) in Brazil, Nicaragua, and India. These projects set the wheels turning when it came to thinking holistically about waste management and the myriad of issues the local communities faced. Her first product launch was of a set of natural dye crayons that she developed with an NGO in Uttarakhand, where they are still produced today. During her time in India however, she realized how deeply rooted and extensive the problem of period poverty was. Due to her projects of recycling and waste management, she also realized that although it’s nice to think about recycling and collecting, the reality is that it isn’t only difficult to convince people to recycle but also to actually recycle after the waste has been given in a proper recycling facility.  She concluded that manufacturers had an important role to play here where they design their products in a way where disposal would be both easy and sustainable. Thus, she co-founded Saathi in 2015 with the goal of making sustainable and healthy pads available to all, especially those from underserved communities and rural areas. 

Tarun hails from Rajasthan, where he was first introduced to menstrual taboos as a little boy when he noticed his mom was told to stay away from him for certain periods every single month. He refused to accept this and so was introduced to the concept of periods for the first time. He was indignant to any justifications given and eventually managed to change the mindset of the elders by his innocent obstinacy. Growing up he realized this issue was far more prevalent and severe than he had perceived as a child.        Having an entrepreneurial streak since childhood, Tarun was also adamant about ensuring that along with the business, the society also benefits. These values were instilled in him by watching his grandfather run his own business, where the progress of the coṣmmunity was seen as a core part of the business and an important metric of success.

With all of these experiences and learning combined together, Kristin and Tarun also understand that for each village or community, the approach needs to be molded to the needs of the community as opposed to the community having to mold to the requirements of the approach. For example, if in one village wearing undergarments is not the norm, then a completely different approach needs to be taken as opposed to a village where undergarments are worn but only cotton cloth is used because of cultural notions of purity. Cultural beliefs, the level of awareness, education, gender equality, etc. are all important complexities that need to be taken into consideration when trying to promote sustained behavior change towards positive menstrual health management practices. 

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?


In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is focused on increased efficiency

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Total number of urban menstruators impacted = 40,000+

Total number of rural menstruators impacted = 35,219

Total amount of jobs generated for women = 383 women 

Total number of farmers partnered with= 18000+ active farmers

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Kristin Kagetsu

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our solution takes a holistic approach to addressing the lack of access to sustainable menstrual management products. Our products are high quality, healthy, eco-friendly, and affordable whereas most menstrual product companies only focus on one or two of these aspects. Saathi thus focuses holistically on the health of the user, the community, and the environment. 

By having a high-impact supply chain with multiple positive social and environmental impacts embedded, we want to lead by example for menstrual companies and other industries in being a scalable and profitable social enterprise. There is a need to shift away from the traditional patterns of innovation, scaling, and profiting. The critical state of climate change is a new problem, that needs a new solution. What we mean by this can be illustrated by the sourcing of our raw materials. 

We use what already exists rather than produce a product from scratch. Our patented technology is a new next-generation technology with processing material tech where we are upcycling agri waste to extend its lifecycle to be used as a product that will eventually merge back with nature. This decreases the liability put on natural resources, profits the farmers, and becomes a sustainable alternative to a product that is traditionally made from plastic. Our technology revolves around the materials we can use, the products we can make out of the same, and the machines that can do it and it is all part of our patent. In that process, we also employ women from underserved areas thus generating employment and alleviating period poverty through a ripple effect in the communities of our workers. Our supply chain is thus completely sustainable and circular, with the added cherry on the cake of having zero waste processing. 

From the consumer perspective, we want to encourage a shift towards focusing on (i) preventive healthcare, (ii) social impact, and (iii) sustainability. By setting an example as a company looking into all three aspects, we would like to encourage consumers to demand healthy, sustainable, and overall ethical products from other companies. 

From the perspective of businesses, we believe businesses can play an integral role in the fight against climate change. Instead of waiting for regulations to pass and for more climate disasters to occur, we want to lead by example when it comes to being a profitable holistically circular company. 

In the market, the general focus is also on recycling or collection of plastic after it is produced. However, the problem right now is too critical for us to only focus on plastic after its production, instead, as we do in our plastic avoidance program, we need to focus on the source of the problem, i.e. the production of plastic. Although it is difficult to completely remove plastic from the supply chain, by partnering with us and participating in our plastic avoidance program, instead of getting credit points to produce more plastic, Saathi’s plastic credits will be a result of actively reducing the amount of plastic that would have otherwise been produced.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Saathi actively works towards 9 of the UN SDG’s, which are SDGs 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 14.

SDG 3 and 5- By providing awareness and education during our distribution drives, we are able to address menstrual taboos, encourage long-term behavioral change, increase social mobility, decrease the amount of missed school and work days, and provide an overall safe menstrual space that normalizes periods as a biological process. With our Robinhood business model, we work towards making sustainable menstrual management accessible and affordable for all. Our women employees in our manufacturing unit also become community teachers who encourage good menstrual health and well-being in their communities by providing awareness, education, and affordable menstrual management products. 

SDG 5- B 

SDG 6- Education on MH encourages healthy menstrual practices and long-term behavioral change. Despite a lack of waste management infrastructure, these products do not pollute the environment as they disappear within 3-18 months of disposal (depending on external conditions). 

SDG 8- Saathi employs women from underserved areas who do not have any formal sector work skills, trains them, and employs them in Saathi’s zero waste and carbon-neutral manufacturing unit. The economic growth that Saathi provides is done sustainably with no harm to the environment. Farmers are also able to earn additional income through Saathi’s purchase of agrowaste materials. 

SDG 9- By using agrowaste, Saathi efficiently uses resources that already exist and would otherwise pollute landfills. Saathi is able to manufacture, sell, and distribute its products while giving back more to the environment than it takes thanks to its innovative design. 

SDG 10- By increasing social mobility and increasing school attendance by providing a constant supply of safe, affordable, healthy menstrual management products, women and girls are not held back by menstruation from reaching their full potential. Our employment in our manufacturing unit also provides financial independence for these women coming from underprivileged backgrounds. 

SDG 12- Using agrowaste means we are taking a resource without causing any additional harm in the whole process. Our packaging is also compostable from the box to the ink! 

SDG 13- By replacing a plastic product and having multiple positive impacts on the environment through our supply chain, we are constantly focusing on SDG 13.

Our current impact and projected impacts are: 

Currently, we work with 18,000+ farmers, in the next five years, we plan to work with 75,000+. 

We currently employ 383 women, by 2028 we aim to employ 31.5k women from underserved areas as we scale up. 

So far we have impacted 40k women with the distribution and sale of our pads, we aim to reach 1.96 million women by 2028. 

We have reduced 36MT of plastic and 71 MT of CO2 from polluting the environment by manufacturing 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads and replacing plastic pads. By 2028, we aim to reduce 3260MT of plastic and 5333 MT of CO2 from entering the environment. 

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

Please find the needed information in this drive link: 

Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

We primarily provide sanitary pads as products along with education and awareness about MHM in rural and urban areas. We sell our products through different sales channels like e-commerce, subscription models, organic retail stores, distributors, and NGOs to reach our end users.

Our business model starts by sourcing agro-waste materials directly from farmers. The banana fiber is processed on the farm so all the water used in the process is put back into the farm and used as a natural pesticide, thus encouraging organic farming. 

The fiber then enters our zero waste all-women-run manufacturing unit which employs women from underserved communities. Through this employment, the women are able to become financially independent and contribute to the family income while increasing awareness and education on sustainable menstrual management practices. 

The product is shipped to our urban consumers, and this purchase allows us to subsidize our rural distribution, thus making sustainable menstrual management products accessible to all. 

After usage the product, being 100% biodegradable and compostable, goes back to the Earth within 3-18 months depending on external conditions. 

You can find a more detailed layout of our business model here- 

A lot of menstruators get UTIs and RTI from the usage of commercial sanitary pads. Currently, there are no other 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary napkin alternatives. There is a dire need for a product that is actually healthy to use and is sustainable as well. This is the unique solution that Saathi provides, in terms of being a product that is affordable, accessible, eco-friendly, and 100% toxic chemical free as well. There is a worrying lack of availability of any such products in the rural parts of India and underserved areas. With over 65% of India’s 1.4 billion population living in rural parts of India, this is a crisis for both the health of the menstruators and the plastic pollution problem which is why Saathi also focuses on creating a social impact and making its products accessible to all parts of the society. 

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

We have a good amount of traction in more than 13+ countries. We are now expanding to several other countries and also launching several other variants and different products. Currently, we are operating at hundred percent capacity and have a sales backlog, so we require additional funding that will help us to scale.

We are looking for corporate partners for our plastic avoidance program which is similar to how carbon mitigation works except for plastics. We’re looking to work with UN agencies and others to procure products for humanitarian causes.

Solution Team

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