3 years on at Saathi: we catch up with our 2017 Grand Winner
As the current crisis turns our world upside, we at Hello Tomorrow are turning to our community for one of the most valuable things in the world right now: hope. A quick restoration of faith in humanity, like our previous interview with Irene Bosch, CTO of E25bio, where we learnt about their rapid and easy-to-use test for Covid-19.
We’re seeing how the world can come together to overcome a crisis, with unprecedented international cooperation and dedication. So, how can we learn from this to build a long-term vision towards the other ongoing emergency, the climate one?
In this whirlwind of information, we took the time to sit down with Tarun Bothra, co-founder of the 2017 Grand Winner of our Global Challenge, Saathi, who make eco-friendly hygiene products from plant-based materials, to discuss their vision for our planet and what they need to make it happen.
Read on to discover what Tarun and his co-founders have been up to over the last few months.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
During this crisis, there is a lot of questioning around the kind of world we want to build ‘post-covid’. With Saathi, you are at the crossroads of two major issues: a societal one and a sustainable one. What kind of opportunities does this bring for Saathi?
During this pandemic, we have seen a lot of big brands “doing good”. We are so happy to see that people have started talking about building a better world. The so-called ‘impact’ companies are going to thrive post-covid, as people start giving more value to their health. People will realize the real impact we have on the environment, and maybe start to look for products that aren’t as harmful as the ones they were using before the pandemic. We are poised for this moment, where we can start collectively looking towards building a new world.
What kind of impact do you think the current pandemic will have on your industry?
The current pandemic has made people more conscious and concerned about their health, hygiene and immunity, and has also kickstarted a new conversation around climate change and climate action. The world has been talking about rebuilding the future in a way that is more sustainable and environmentally conscious. This can result in a positive change within our industry, with an increasing number of environmentally and health-conscious customers.
Let’s talk about Saathi’s amazing growth and traction in the last months. In terms of development paths, are you looking to develop a new product in India, or instead expand into new countries and respond to an international demand?
From a visibility standpoint, Saathi has been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Best Inventions of 2019 and we even have our podcasts now on Spotify! Commercially, Saathi products are now available on more platforms.
Moreover, to help with Covid-19 efforts, we are exploring how to use our biodegradable and compostable materials to manufacture essential supplies such as masks and sterilizing equipment from our materials.
We are also continuing our advocacy work, conducting various workshops on sustainable menstruation in the UK and Norway, and we are working on various campaigns related to body, environment and community which you can find on our Instagram @saathipads.
What are the opportunities and the roadblocks you can predict when it comes to expanding outside of India? (If you are indeed expanding outside of India)
Yes, we are planning to expand our product availability outside of India. We are seeing so much interest in our products around the world so we want to explore more eco-friendly markets.However, we can’t predict the effects of lockdown around the world and how it will affect our strategy.
What do you need today to continue scaling up? How can the Hello Tomorrow community help?
To scale up we are raising funds, and would be very happy if the Hello Tomorrow community can help us connect with investors in their network. We are also looking for brand building partners and distribution opportunities. Finally, if anyone is interested in partnering with us to support our #onemillionpads initiative, aimed at providing complete Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) to underprivileged women who don’t have access to sanitary pads, give us a shout!