Ira Guha - Indian Girl launches the world’s best period product designed at the Harward Innovation Lab - Asan
Asan is a revolutionary new menstrual cup that helps to make Indian women’s lives better. Started by 28-year-old Ira Guha, it was designed with engineers at the Harvard Innovation Lab.
Ira was inspired to start Asan after her family’s maid was forced to miss out on work due to terrible rashes caused by low-cost sanitary pads. Nearly 2 in 3 Indian women struggles to afford access to a safe period solution (64%).
Asan’s ambition is to eradicate period poverty and radically reduce the landfill waste generated by sanitary pads. For every cup Asan sells, they donate one for free to a woman or girl who suffers from period poverty.
Asan partners with established women’s health NGOs to distribute the donation cups. Every woman gets a user manual and in-depth training video in her language of choice. Its aim for the next 10 years is to reach at least 5 million women via their sales and donation programme, and to avert 500 million tonnes of landfill waste.
What are menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are the rage in the first world and increasingly seen as the most ecological and cost- effective menstrual product for women. BBC reports that google search for the word has gone up 800% in the last three years. However, they are an untapped market in India.
The cup is made from medical grade silicone and features a unique removal ring which makes it extremely easy to use compared with other menstrual cups. It can be reused for up to 10 years, averting landfill waste (12.3 billion sanitary pads are sent to landfill each year in India alone).
The Asan cup has been tested by hundreds of women in the US, Europe and India, from all different income backgrounds. They universally describe it as the world’s best period product. In Kanakapura, Karnataka, where Asan has been running a pilot for 6 months, the cup has become known among women in the village as the “magical cup”.
Asan has sold and donated thousands of menstrual cups and is rapidly scaling, with a UK and Europe launch scheduled for the end of 2021.
About the founder
Ira Guha, Founder and CEO of Asan holds a Master!s in Public Policy from Harvard and a First- Class BA from Cambridge. To pursue Asan, Ira was awarded the Warner Fellowship by Harvard’s Women and Public Policy Programme as well as First Place at the King’s College Entrepreneurship Competition, University of Cambridge (£20,000 prize).
Beneficiaries of the donation programme explain how the cup has transformed their lives: