Grassroots Innovation: Mini Sanitary Napkin Machine for Rural India

A nationwide survey gauging menstrual hygiene by Plan India revealed that 68% of rural Indian women are not able to afford sanitary napkins.

Sanitary napkin, an essential personal hygiene product, has very low penetration in India due to it’s high price. The survey showed that 81% of rural women use unsterilized cloth since it is relatively cheaper than sanitary napkins.

The Innovator and the Innovation

Muruganatham (47) has developed an assembly of low cost, portable machines that produce quality sanitary napkins at a cost of Rs. 1 to Rs. 1.50 per pad approximately.

Tenth standard passed and with no further formal education, Muruganatham always had an attitude of a scientist – observing, experimenting and giving birth to new ideas. When he became aware that most rural women couldn’t afford sanitary napkin thus putting them in grave danger of various infectious diseases, he decided to do something about it.


The Process of Innovating

Initially he worked with cloth but that didn’t give the desired results. He got a commercially available napkin and found out that they used wood fiber for draining the fluids and retaining shape of the pad. He sourced the requisite raw material and developed the final assembly of machines in 2004. He got encouraging feedback on it’s efficancy and subsequently improved the machine by adding UV sterilization unit, calibration and increasing the production rate to 1000 pads per day.



The Social Impact

This machine heralds a new revolution in low cost personal hygiene  for women across all sections of society. Muruganatham has developed a social entrepreneurship model where-in SHG groups can buy the machine and market or sell the product according to their requirements. Many self help groups (SHGs), corporates and organizations like M S Swaminathan Research Research Foundation, All India Woman’s Conference etc. have placed orders for the machine.


These napkin making machines in India are already in place in more than 200 location across the country empowering local women and banishing the stigma away from menstruation and feminine hygiene.

The National Innovation Foundation (NIF), India, was established on Feb 28th 2000 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The main goal of NIF is to provide institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots green innovations and help their transition to self supporting activities.
NIF has been supporting and incubating a number of interesting innovations over the past many years. We have been showcasing these innovations here as part of an ongoing series called ‘Grassroots Innovation’.

You can view all the Grassroots Innovations articles here.
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Add your thoughts about this story:

  • Raja Ganapathy

    A man for a woman’s hygiene…I am stunned, wish there were more Muruganthams…to break barrier pattern’s of the indian male towards woman in our country. Once again thank you Better India for such positive news

  • Swatipathak1318

    fabulous work keep it up …… u r the real motination……..great…….

  • Sohelatbusiness

    How can I reach the man any email or phone number?

  • rahulanand

    To get more info about the innovation and the innovation. Please mail at

  • Sova Ngo

    what is the cost of sanitary making scheme for SHG??
    is it feasible for rural folks??
    Please publish a list of beneficieries to encourge others.

  • Eastagri

    How can I get more info on this machine??? Anybody who can help me, may send a mail to eastagri(at)gmail(dot)com pls

  • rahulanand

    please do mail at for more info

  • rahulanand

    get in touch with NIF at

  • enviro

    There is still a big problem: how about disposal of used napkins? The machine purveyors need to also provide containers for used napkins, otherwise they will end up littering public spaces instead of going into some kind of composting set-up.
    I saw this in Dhaka, in what used to be pleasant Ramna Park, where at night women tossed their used napkins any old place around the space there for all to encounter when roaming the park in the daytime. My guess is that the women who did this were probably sex workers who had to meet clients at night and knew how to hide from chokidars, if there actually were any.

    In fact, the inventor should also invent disposal bags that will biodegrade in compost for the women to stow used napkins in until it’s convenient for them to dump them in the compost collector. Why? Because of the plastic bag menace, now carpeting Asia from west to east and north to south!

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  • Yogesh Lokhande

    please visit for more information on Muruganantham’s business.

  • Yogesh Lokhande
  • Yogesh Lokhande
  • Mpgarewal

    we are stort to sanitary napkin paid in bilaspur c.g.,pls halp us in machinary

  • L Chinzah

    Hello everyone from the National Innovation Foundation!

    You may kindly contact the innovator at the following:

    COIMBATORE 641 108, Mobile: 92831 55128 / 98422 15984
    Web Site:

    You may also contact me if you wish:

    L. Chinzah
    National Coordinator-BD & MVIF
    National Innovation Foundation,
    Ph: +91 99250 40386

  • L Chinzah

    Dear enviro,

    The innovator as of now is mainly engaged in the commercialization of his technology so that women at large can benefit. Without letting the best be the enemy of better he is to the best of his capacity offering a hygienic solution for women who would otherwise use unhygienic rags during their menstruation periods. If you have any idea about the solution pertaining to the issue that you mentioned or if you know anyone who has some idea please let us know.

    National Innovation Foundation,

  • kumarvaidhyalingam

    Dear Sir,
    Greetings from GREDS NGO ,working with women members and adalocent girls in rural pondicherry.
    We need more details for the same.
    and one village got NGP award and SHG members ready to work with us.
    pl kindly support for the innovation to use needy poor.
    Convener-climate action network ,TN&Pondi
    &0,Jayaram Nagar,
    Pondicherry-605 102
    0413 6590130

  • enviro

    Dear L Chinzah

    This dispenser idea is just the ticket for people who can afford the price. As for remedies for the disposal problem, the NIF should consult paper makers to learn if they make a paper, or if they CAN make a paper bag that is strong enough to hold the used articles but that can also disintegrate in compost bins.
    Then an educational campaign can be started in connection with the marketing of the disposal machines to educate users how to dispose of the used napkins. This will take initiative and searching. Indians are very enterprising and inventive. I believe you can find the right paper for this purpose.
    Also, here is what may seem to be a weird idea but it is common in some areas of the world with people who like everything organic, and it works: earthworms. The red earthworm (the kind fishermen use to catch fish with) can be used to destroy wastes of animal and vegetable origin, in bins where they live and multiply. Their castings can be used as excellent fertilizer in growing veggies. If they are used as the composting medium, nothing that has pesticides on it should be put in their bins.
    Please see this website:
    and here: they say:
    “The India Blue worm is a small, tropical earthworm that typically doesn’t grow over 3 inches in length. The India Blue worm possesses a distinctive blue body sheen…”

    Best wishes,

  • m .p.mishra

    i am impressed with this innovation, please provide details of this project
    we are running a cottage industry in a remote village in district kaushambhi U.P
    we want to create awareness among the females of this very backward place

  • ajay bhartia

    we will b intrested for the machine to b install in Ajay Bhartia,no-08447004888.thanks

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