Founder’s Story

Founder's Journey

Founder story

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.  It was during one of these yatras that 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 Murganathan.The unit was set up in a village in Uttrakhand and their team of 10 (which also has volunteers from 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 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 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. Being part of closed communities along with the shame and secrecy attached to menstruation the women found it difficult to throw it with other waste for the fear of it being seen or worse distingration by animals and thus left on the streets and around household. This challenge pushed Jaydeep to find an eco solution.  After months of research, in 2013 Aakar launched ‘Anandi’- India’s first ~100% compostable napkin thus revolutionizing the sanitary napkin market.

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 5 countries in Africa 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.

Aakar graphic