An Innovation that has Changed the Lives of Women in India

Published 29 Nov 2019
Reference 6521
Topic Strategy
Region Asia
Summary

In the year 2000, only 2% of women in India used menstrual hygiene products. Almost a quarter-billion relied on cloth rags and many rural women were banished to a hut during their monthly cycle. In these unsanitary conditions, 62.4% had experienced at least one reproductive tract infection, with the result that teenage hysterectomies were not uncommon. The lack of menstrual products was linked to a high drop-out rate from school, forced teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy and often a lifetime of subservience. Yet despite the severity of the problem, taboo kept it largely hidden. Indians did not discuss menstruation. Arunachalam “Arun” Muruganantham changed this by innovating a new business method: micro-factories where women produced and sold sanitary napkins directly to other women. The case discusses how he solved a previously unaddressed problem in a way that created a new market, overcame deep social taboos, challenged centuries-old traditions and bettered women’s lives, resulting in the creation of over 3,500 small businesses. It highlights how enterprises can be economically profitable and a force for good. And why, contrary to conventional thinking, innovation does not need to be disruptive but can be based on nondisruptive market creation.

Teaching objectives

To show that innovation does not always involve disruption. It is possible to create a win-win for society and for the company that does not displace existing markets and players. This broader conception of innovation and embraces what Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne call “nondisruptive creation.”

Keywords
  • Arunachalam Muruganantham
  • Period. End of Sentence.
  • Pad Man
  • India
  • Nondisruptive creation
  • Disruption
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Indian Women
  • Women’s Health
  • Menstrual Hygiene
  • Developing Nations
  • Innovative Healthcare
  • Academy Award Winning Documentary
  • Blue Ocean Strategy
  • Sanitary paper product manufacturing
  • Q11920