Suhani Mohan: being a hero for rural women
Periods! We all talk about periods, how it is a taboo and why we should break it. But a very few focus on the issue of women hygiene during the process. Thanks to movies like “Padman” that are creating an environment where women can finally address directly to the issue of female hygiene. It feels so appalled when we listen to the stories of our older aunts and grandma’s using cloths and rags, but it also thrilling to know that very few moved on. Forget about tampons, women in certain areas doesn’t even have a simple access for sanitary napkins and thus are at greater risk of chronic health issues. Suhani Mohan is one of the women who not only paid heed to the issue but also helped declining it to an extent. This is her story.
Suhani Mohan, Founder of Saral Designs
“It had never crossed my mind to wonder when I spend Rs.100 per month to manage my period, how a woman, whose entire family’s earning is less than Rs.1000 per month, could manage hers,” says Suhani Mohan.
Her journey started just like that! When she first start menstruating she was well aware about this new change in her and also had access to buy pads and tampons. It wasn’t until she met Anshu Gupta, Founder of Goonj, that she realized the disparity women faces. She thought about the hurdles and challenges these women face in buying the basic hygiene needs. With the help of her friend Kartik Mehta, Suhani Mohan soon started exploring the low cost sanitary making techniques and procedures. She was determined to do something to improve the unfortunate situation of India and this was exactly where she figured out the gap between demand and supply in the Indian market. The duo together started Saral Designs in 2015, where Kartik basically focused on a budget production whereas Suhani focused more on Manufacturing.
Saral Design Solutions Private Limited is a company that works on designing sanitary napkins to provide accessibility to affordable and quality products in the rural areas of India. The company has introduced a machine that manufacture high-quality pads product known as Aisha pads, in a local manner. This helps lower the costs of the product that typically happens due to multiple layers of supply. Suhani Mohan through her Saral Design makes it easy for the girls who lack access to buy such pads. To meet the demand she also introduced several other methods of distribution that includes accessibility to Pharmacy stores, door-to-door sale and also installing vending machines in school toilets and also works on promoting hygiene awareness throughout the locality.
But getting this far includes hurdles that were no less than challenging. With no funds, it was difficult to hire helping hands, so the duo just did all the stuff by themselves. The first two peaple who joined the group was their friends who were greatly inspired by the cause they were promoting. They together worked in a workshop created by Suhani and Kartik. It was extremely tough to work in summers as the place would get extremely hot, so their friends from IIT Bombay donated their old furniture, an air conditioner and stationery products to the group. Initially this helped them a lot in managing their work. In order to build a strong company, the group started looking out for institutes that shared the same interest. Surprisingly they found tons of talented and hands-on mechanical students who with their brains managed to build a low cost manufacturing machine. Soon the company raised funding from various enterprises such as the Fynd, and since then there is looking back. Saral Desing’s, sanitary napkins known as Aisha Ultra XL are ultra-thin pads with wings and gel technology. One packet of Aisha pads costs Rs. 24.
As it is said, ‘the tough the struggle the sweeter the fruit’, Saral Design was able to make a huge impact after entering the industry. They have so far already sold 1,500 packets and tied up with 60 medical shops in the area of Dharavi, Mumbai. The Saral Design by Suhani Mohan works on three principles, Awareness, accessibility and affordability. For a company working for a social cause should always watch out their target consumers. They should realize what kind of products at what rate will be favorable for the targeted market. These three A’s are the pillar essential not just for Saral Design but any startup across the land.
It is extremely delighted to come across such stories where women of India are creating a history worth remembering. These initiative by females makes us really ponder about the darker side of women condition in the country. It helps us witness the changes that our society is bearing in the hands of inspiring Indians such as Suhani Mohan. With her initiative, Saral Design, she is not only empowering herself but also the girls she is working for. The team of The Indianness salutes her for her courage and hope a better future for her and her initiative!