Freedom From Shame

Charity Social Entrepreneurship

Freedom From Shame

Be part of the revolution in women's sanitary hygiene!

Campaign Ended

This campaign was funded on November, 30 2014

2,99,677

raised of  16,00,000 goal

94

backers

Aakar Innovations

About the Campaign

Aakar Innovations

We are a social enterprise working to improve the lives of underprivileged women in rural India by empowering them as local entrepreneurs who provide their communities with quality menstrual hygiene products at affordable prices, as well as spread awareness on reproductive health so as to dispel the social stigmas associated with menstruation.

  • 9 out of 10 women in India do not use sanitary pads (7 out of 10 use an old cloth)
  • 1 out of 4 girls drop out of school once they reach puberty (yes, that is a quarter of the next generation of Indian women)

This is a profound issue that impacts an estimated 312 million women in India alone, and we need your support to build a comprehensive solution that enables these women to take ownership over their own bodies. 

The Social Issues

  • Lack of affordability and access: Branded napkins are not affordable for most of the rural population.  This is coupled with the fact that local kirana shops, or general stores, in rural areas are run by men, which makes women feel shy or embarrassed about purchasing pads.
  • Lack of awareness: Most of the women in rural India are not aware of the benefits of using sterilized napkins. As such, they resort to damaging alternatives such as rags and leaves, which are unsanitary and can result in irreparable health problems in the long term. Many women from affluent, rural families are not informed of proper menstrual hygiene because cultural practices are passed down from mothers and aunts to daughters, creating a vicious cycle of unintentional ignorance.
  • Social stigma: Menstruation is a cultural taboo in most parts of rural India. For many women in India, getting their monthly period can often mean experiencing isolation, humiliation or marginalization for a biological function over which they have no control. Women often think it is shameful to even discuss menstruation. Women who are both affluent and aware might not use sanitary napkins for this reason.

At the core of it all, adolescent girls often end up skipping 1 week of school every month and eventually, prolonged absenteeism forces them to drop out of school completely.

What Do WE Do?

With our sanitary napkin production unit, we manufacture 100% biodegradable sanitary napkins that are competitively affordable and adhere to all of  the quality requirements dictated by the Bureau of Indian Standards. To reach the rural masses, each of these units is strategically placed in the most remote parts of India, usually inaccessible by common vehicular routes. Otherwise known as a mini-factory, 10 women are directly employed in our production unit to make our pads, while another 10 more are trained to become village entrepreneurs (change agents) in their own communities. These women then go on to conduct regular health talks to be the last mile distributor of sanitary napkins within their own communities by using their existing social circles.

Most companies are not able to distribute sanitary napkins in rural areas without bearing high transportation costs. As such, many of these rural areas are often left out in the distribution network. This is where we value add; we collaborate with local grassroots organizations in these underprivileged areas to set up the production units. This creates extra income aside from farming, and adds a distribution point that is significantly more appealing than man-operated stores. Given the quality of our napkins, women no longer experience discomfort that occurs when using the traditional methods, and allows them to participate fully in their daily physical tasks.

Why We Need Your Help?

We currently have 10 production units running all over India, and we are quickly expanding to 30 more within the next year. This means an additional 600 women will have a sustainable source of income, while equipping 150,000 rural women with the Anandi pad. 

But we want to go even further. To fully enable the furthest reaches of distribution of products and awareness to rural women in India, we have worked relentlessly to dispell stigmas surrounding menstruation in each community. We do so by educating women to become village entrepreneurs (affectionately called "Anandi Ben,") who become the spokespersons in their communities and act as the last mile distributors of sanitary pads to their peers.

This means a significant amount needs to be invested so that we can integrate those who have been left behind in India’s growth story, and train them to become confident enough to sell the pads, run their own micro finance business and speak out against ineffective menstrual hygiene management,. With your help, we can achieve our full impact of training women to become successful village entrepreneurs by hiring more trainers and introducing more learning activities such as simulated role-playing for sales tactics, on top of public speaking and basic accounting skills.

This is why we decided to launch our very first crowd-funding campaign so that YOU can join in our cause of empowering women. 

Pledge Your Support!

We are committed and driven to make this a reality so that women no longer need to be discriminated against for something as natural as menstruation, and girls no longer need to skip school just because they are having their period. It is a simple as that.

Pledge your support and together, we can help these women do better and achieve more.

To find out more about what we do and who we are, please check out our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Use #freedomfromshame any time you post about us! We'll probably respond in thanks :) Also, share share share if you feel as passionately about this as we do! The more people know about us, the greater the impact we will be able to have on the lives of these women. 

A Big Thank You

To have come this far, it would not have been possible with the help of our incubator, Center for Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Indian Institute of Management-Ahmadabad, and our partners who have lent their support in making this a reality. Since our inception in 2011, we have won the Indian Innovation Growth programme organized by FICCI and has been featured on multiple publications including The EconomistLive-Mint & The Wall Street JournalWired UK and The Hindu. 

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94 Backers

    Rewards

    600+

    $10 or more: Thank you for your contribution! As a thank you, we would like to give you a small offering of appreciation. Reward: Certificate of Appreciation

    24 backers

    3,000+

    $50 or more: Thank you for your support! We appreciate it enormously! To express our gratitude we would like to show you exclusive behind the scenes footage of our crowdfunding campaign video. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed filming it! Reward: Behind-The-Scenes Footage & Certificate of Appreciation

    15 backers

    6,000+

    Contribute Rs. 6,000 or more $100 or more: Thank you for endorsing us! Your contribution is enough to train one of our village level entrepreneurs! To express our gratitude, we would like to show you what a day in the village looks like. For our women entrepreneurs, this is home. It is where they engage with their friends, where they work, and where their children grow up. We hope you find it as moving as we do. Reward: Go-Pro “Life in the Village” Video + Behind-The-Scenes Footage + Certificate of Appreciation

    13 backers

    15,000+

    $250 or more: Your support is monumental! Your contribution makes a huge difference to the impact we are able to have. To give you an idea, your contribution will enable us train 3 women entrepreneur! As a thank you, we would like to give you all of the above benefits as well as a shout out blurb on all of our social media! If you would like to remain anonymous, just let us know and we will thank you out loud to ourselves. Reward: Social Media Shout Out + Go-Pro “Life in the Village” Video + Behind-The-Scenes Footage + Certificate of Appreciation

    198rewards left

    2 backers

    Estimated Delivery: Jan 2015

    30,000+

    $500 or more: Thank you for being a change agent in our mission! To recognize your support, we will make a personalized thank you video and share our shout out on all of our social media platforms. If you would rather remain anonymous, we will respect that as well. Regardless of your anonymity, know that we are extremely grateful for your help! Your contribution helps us to train 5 women as spokespeople for reproductive health within their communities. This in turn has the potential to educate thousands women and girls who otherwise would not have access to this necessary information. Reward: Personalized Thank You Video + Go-Pro “Life in the Village” Video + Behind-The-Scenes Footage + Certificate of Appreciation

    49rewards left

    1 backers

    Estimated Delivery: Jan 2015

    Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can check out our FAQs page.