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Sanitation solutions: First Indian finalist at Dell social innovation honours

Badhri Jagannathan
13th May 2011
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For the first time in the five-year history of Dell’s Social Innovation competition, a team from India has made it to the finals in the 2011 edition. The team going by the name SIFE SSCBS from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, University of Delhi has fielded their project “Sanitation Solutions” that empowers women from the slum-dwelling population to manufacture and sell low cost sanitary napkins, thus contributing towards better sanitary hygiene while simultaneously providing a sustained means of livelihood.

For effective implementation of this project, they adopt a three-step approach as outlined in the project’s homepage

  1. Identify a group women entrepreneurs in the slums who would manufacture and sell napkins to the slum-dwelling women thus establishing a direct supply link leading to significantly lower per-unit cost.
  2. Conduct awareness camps to stimulate demand with the help of doctors and Anganwadi workers thus providing a platform to discuss facts, myths and stigma menstruation.
  3. Impart financial and marketing education through interaction and role-play to entrepreneurs.

Started in 2009, the project is currently implemented in five slums in Delhi targeting about 20000 slum women, the team claims that the house hold income of the seller has increased by 20% while significantly reducing occurrence rate of diseases associated with lack of sanitary hygiene such as cervical cancer and infertility.

Further, the team has also accounted for the environment by providing LD type plastic covers (that can decompose) along with their product that can be used for save disposal. The napkins themselves are biodegradable as they are made of cotton and other organic material.

SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

 

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