We are excited to update you on Purvi Tanwani’s progress since starting her fellowship in December. Purvi’s organization, Anahat, trains women in West Bengal to make reusable sanitary pads and diapers. She has provided full-time employment opportunities for 10 people and has supported the livelihoods of +250 women. Continue reading below to learn more about Purvi as well as the impact of her work.
“How has the RISE Fellowship impacted your business?”
Becoming a RISE Fellow has provided me with the funding and support needed to scale our reusable pad making project, Unnati. Through the support that I have received, I have been able to train additional women from the Indo-Bangladesh borders to make reusable cloth pads and reusable baby diapers. As a result, women have gained an income, learnt new skills, can safely manage their periods and are better equipped to look after their babies in a cost-effective and eco-friendly manner.
With Sundara’s support we were able to procure materials and the machinery needed for stitching diapers. We have also received guidance and support on a variety of topics, including social media marketing, digital marketing and brand recognition.
“What mentorship have you received and how has this supported your social enterprise?”
From the beginning of my fellowship I was asked which areas I required mentorship in. I was able to look at my organization and identify where we would benefit from additional support. From there, RISE tailored their mentorship to match the needs of my organization.
I have connected with mentors who have furthered my understanding on sales and social media marketing. Additionally, we looked into soap-recycling in India and Sundara’s Founder, Erin Zaikis, spoke to us about her non-profit in India; we found Erin’s support and guidance invaluable. The RISE team has not just provided mentorship for me but they have also welcomed my co-founder, Namrata, with open arms.
“What is your biggest accomplishment so far?”
Co-founding a social enterprise with a hybrid model of profit-not-for-profit in just 3 years has been my biggest accomplishment so far. Anahat started as an idea between two people and has grown to provide full-time employment for 10 professionals who support +250 women in the most vulnerable areas of West Bengal.
Within this short period of time, we have worked with several reputable organizations including UNICEF, BISWA BANGLA, State Education Department and Govt. of West Bengal. We have received love and support from all across the world - some of our projects independently run with the help of foreign donors that have reached out because they believe in Anahat and the capability of our team.
“What difference has Anahat made to the community?”
Project Unnati empowers young girls and women by providing them with knowledge about Menstrual Health & Hygiene (MHH), Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) as well as training community members to make sustainable sanitary products, including reusable cloth pads and reusable diapers.
Our initiative has provided dignified employment for women on the Indo-Bangladesh border. Before receiving their training from Anahat, the girls were previously involved in bidi making (making tobacco rolls). Additionally, before the implementation of our program, the women and girls were required to travel 12 km to purchase a packet of sanitary napkins. Our project has improved access to menstrual supplies and all of our distributions are paired with an awareness-raising session which teaches the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices.
“If you could share one piece of advice with your younger self, what would it be and why?”
One piece of advice that I would share with my younger self is that there is no instruction manual for life. We have to adapt to unexpected changes and always be ready to welcome and work with it. The most uncertain periods in life can alter your entire outlook and lead to something very big and important. Additionally, a major lesson to learn was that good things happen to people who are persistent.