Hyderabad: She could have been in a corporate set and glued to her work desk. But Rathlawath Maheshwari chose an unfamiliar route and turned into a pad-woman with her sanitary napkin making unit near Dundigal.
Even as the market is already flooded with a range of sanitary napkins from various players, Maheshwari is optimistic that she will turn the tide with the organic napkins that the company makes.
“We have set up the unit to make napkins accessible and affordable to rural people. Cost is a factor for many and as a result many women compromise on hygiene. Also, we are focused on sustainability and therefore are using organic products,” says Maheshwari.
The unit now has a capacity to make about 60 lakh pieces a month and the unit has seen an investment of about Rs 3.5 crore or so. “We secured a Rs 2.5 crore loan for the machinery and another Rs 50 lakh support for the getting the raw materials,” she says.
“I was inspired by a small unit that was making napkins. While the product was good, the unit could not reap benefits due to lack of scale. As a result, the costs were high,” said Maheswari, who pursued CSE from MLRIT and graduated in 2013, about what sowed the seed of entrepreneurship in her. Before this venture, she got trained in fashion designing and made some dresses to sell online to some boutiques.
She wanted to automate the napkin making process and found the right machinery in China. It took eight months to get that here,” she says. She imports organic raw material from Canada. Her firm employs 30 women in the packaging wing and has five technicians. The company makes sanitary napkins under the brand Gofive.
“We need some marketing assistance from the Government. The local makers should be given preference,” she says.
The company is supplying napkins to some schools and colleges. The company is also doing a job work for Odisha Government. A pack of eight napkins is priced at Rs 18 while a single pad is priced Rs 1.8.
“We are now operating in a single shift. We will increase the output based on the orders. We are ready for tie-ups and can be OEMs as well to others,” she says. Plans are also on to make diapers for kids.
The company also works to create awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. “We want to reach remote village and make women and girls experience mobility, freedom and hygiene during periods. Many still use a cloth instead of a napkin mainly due to cost factor,” she says about the problem she is looking to address.