Social entrepreneur Geeta Solanki has been selected Entrepreneur of the Year – medium enterprise category – in the 1st edition of the Vijayalakshmi Entrepreneurship Awards, an initiative of Satya MicroCapital Limited. The Women on Wings partnership has been instrumental for her work for the empowerment of women, children and the wider community, and for scaling up the Indian economy, according to the judges.
Changing lives of women and girls
Geeta Solanki received the prize on March 8, during an award ceremony in Delhi which marked International Women’s Day. Geeta Solanki is founder of Unipads India Private Limited (Unipads) which empowers women to manufacture and distribute Unipads’ reusable sanitary pads to women and girls living in rural and semi urban areas. It not only makes the product available to women and girls at a reasonable price and convenient manner, but also provides employment to women who work as distributors, so called ‘Kalyanis’. Each Kalyani is trained on Menstrual Hygiene Management and other aspects of menstruation and sales. The Kalyanis who earn an income from Unipads, help their families move a step towards achieving financial stability, which will impact the entire community they live in.
Keeping girls in school
Unipads’ sanitary pads are environmentally friendly and are entirely made of cloth, unlike disposables which are made of plastic, which can lead to all kinds of infections. The pads last on an average for a year, which makes it ‘pocket friendly’. Since its inception in 2017, Unipads has distributed its pads amongst more than 800,000 women and girls nationally and internationally, thus helping them achieve menstrual hygiene. Not only that, without proper menstrual hygiene, girls would drop out of school for one week per month. Thanks to sanitary pads, girls are enabled to stay in school during their period.
Recognizing women entrepreneurs
The award recognizes women leaders of micro, small and medium enterprises who have initiated, organized and operated a business enterprise. Entrepreneurs who are confident, creative, and innovative – desiring economic independence individually and simultaneously creating employment opportunities for others. In the category Medium Enterprise, the award acknowledges efforts of the woman entrepreneur who has successfully started right from the base and now have a total team strength of 20+ individuals. The winner of this award, is rewarded a cash prize of INR 1,00,000/- (± 1,100 euro).
Women on Wings and Unipads
Women on Wings and Unipads started collaborating in 2020 on their joint mission of co-creating employment opportunities for women in rural India.
Satya MicroCapital Limited primarily caters to women who own businesses and are looking for means of expansion. The group lending model allows groups of borrowers to share the liability and responsibility to repay loans while helping them build a strong credit profile to avail finance from traditional financial institutions.