Aakar Innovations was incubated at Centre for Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM Ahmedabad.
Forever inquisitive and enthusiastic Jaydeep has always been an entrepreneur at heart. What makes him stand out is his passion to bring a change and therefore Aakar was conceived in 2011 as a Social Enterprise.
While in college Jaydeep joined the Honeybee network and worked closely with Prof. Anil Gupta (Founder of Honeybee Network) travelling across India identifying and documenting the various innovations and entrepreneurs. While working with Honeybee Network he met Arunachalam Muruganatham (the inspiration behind the bollywood movie Padman). In 2010, while still in college completing his MBA, Jaydeep had an opportunity to work first hand on the machine developed by Mr. Muruganantham. The unit was set up in a village home of Sonia Suryavanshi(Volunteer, Honeybee Network) in Uttrakhand as college SIFE(Students in Free Enterprise) project and their team of 10 (which also has SIFE members from Sheffield University-UK) worked relentlessly to make the unit work while engage with the community to understand the issue around menstruation and encourage safe practices.
These 10 months made him realize the extent of the issue and thus pave the way for Aakar. While Jaydeep was involved with several projects/ innovations before this assignment working with the community and understanding the demand versus current availability he knew that there was tremendous work to be done. Based on learnings from the field, he realized the need for a new method and business model to address the issue of menstrual hygiene for the bottom of the pyramid. He spent the next one year visiting and interacting with various entrepreneurs who had a low cost solution for making sanitary napkin. Being a student he did not have the resources to travel everywhere but his passion fuelled him to make do with whatever he had or could manage. Those overseas who he could not meet in person he pursued via email/ video calls.
Aakar started as a college project and was registered in August 2011 as an organization. The first 16 months were spent building the machine, setting business and operating models, product technicalities, and specifications and challenges. While working in Afghanistan where Jaydeep conducted a month long study on MHM in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province with Aga Khan Foundation he became fully aware on the challenges of disposal. while interacting with the community women he found out that disposal was one of biggest challenge as well a hindrance for women using sanitary napkin. AKF’s senior team also added social challenges in communities for disposal of pads & how they are against the current plastic based pads. He took it as a challenge to find green solution for managing periods & after months of research, in 2013 Aakar launched ‘Anandi’- India’s first fully compostable & biodegradable napkin thus revolutionising the sanitary napkin market.
He also worked on Sanitary pad making machines from India’s 1st manual machine to make Sanitary pads as per BIS(GoI) to making semi-auto and now automatic machines with high performance, low maintenance, minimum skill requirement, low power consumption.
Since then, the innovation has been under constant improvement and every step takes the organization and technology ahead. The eco solution is now spread across 40 units in India and 6 countries in Africa & in Nepal with experiments/ research to use other available indigenous material like Jute, Banana Fibre, Water Hyacinth, Today Aakar has evolved into a hybrid business venture comprising a for-profit arm (Aakar Innovations) and non-profit arm (Aakar Social Ventures), thereby becoming a platform integrator.