Over 60% of the women in India do not use personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins and an equal number are not aware of simple birth control methods (like condoms, birth control pills etc.). Boond Foundation, while working in villages of Rajasthan and UP encountered this problem first hand and resolved to do something about this.
Over the past two years, Boond Foundation has built expertise in rural marketing and distribution to facilitate access to products that would bring about considerable amount of socio economic progress in the region. Primarily working in the area of renewable energy like solar power, the foundation also aims to expand its activities to include empowerment of rural women.
In order to solve the personal hygiene problem, the foundation decided to utilize technology and women entrepreneurs. It realized that the reason for the low adoption of products like sanitary napkins etc. was not only due to the low awareness levels but also because the women were hesitant to go to the local markets to buy these kinds of products as the shopkeepers were often men.
It conducted an extensive review of technologies available and found that a mobile app would contribute in a huge way towards this empowerment. After the review, it embarked on an initiative titled ‘Women’s Personal Private Marketplace’ on a mobile phone.
The initiative aims towards educating and providing access to women in rural communities with basic hygienic products that will help ward off many diseases / infections that they normally encounter.
Since the medium of marketing will be mobile phones, it will ensure a very high penetration and also be discreet. Specific needs and wants related to their health will be prioritized in the design of the application.
With this model and business plan, Boond competed in the Nokia Global Women’s Business Plan competition and won the top spot with fund support from Nokia to develop the application. It has also partnered with a renowned NGO from Canada – Decode Global; a pioneer of mobile apps for social change.
Additionally, this initiative has also been selected for the final of the ‘Project Inspire’ competition (http://www.facebook.com/ProjInspire) being run by UN Women and MasterCard organization. The winners will be decided on the basis of public votes. The winner will be awarded with the ‘People’s Choice Award’.
Also, please remember to support this high impact social initiative by voting at the UN Women Competition: http://bit.ly/RbCWXI