Ira Guha, Founder & CEO, Asan

Ira Guha is the Founder and CEO of Asan, a social venture with a mission to eradicate period poverty across the world.  

Podcast

Overview

Ira Guha is helping eradicate period poverty around the world with the help of a sustainable period product that can last for up to 10 years! Founder and CEO of Asan, Ira shares her journey at The Brand Called You. She has a degree in Politics from Cambridge University and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Ira had been working at a consulting firm in London, but a visit to her parents in Bangalore changed everything for her…

How did Asan come to life?

On her visit, Ira found out that one of her house staff was on leave for several days, the reason when asked was the inability to work because of period rashes and urinary tract infection from using cheap sanitation pads. Further research on this subject revealed to Ira that most women with low incomes cannot afford good sanitation products. Now, her only mission in life is to eradicate period poverty with the help of her organization Asan. 

“I’m not tied to the business model, I’m just tied to the mission which is- everybody across the world needs to have access to safety.” 

About Asan Cup 

Ira has created a menstrual cup, (for those of you who don’t know, a menstrual cup is an insertable period device that collects your period blood) with the help of researchers at Harvard University. Asan’s cup is one of the world’s most safest and convenient menstrual cups made from medical-grade silicone that is used in breast implants and stents. Asan cups can be used for up to 10 years. 

Benefits of using Asan Menstrual Cup 

Asan menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone material that can be used for up to 10 years. In a country like India where there is a taboo around the topic of menstrual health, Asan is helping women get educated on this topic and helping them talk openly about the issues they face by using cheaper sanitary products or clothes. With affordable cups that are easy to use and carry, Asan is also tackling the waste management issue caused by other period products, hence literally saving our planet from this non-biodegradable waste! 

For every cup one purchases from Asan, the foundation donates one for free to women who cannot afford good quality period products. It is sustainable, affordable, and easy to use. Tune in to this episode of The Brand Called You to listen to Ira’s amazing initiative that is helping so many women around the world and saving our planet at the same time!

Profile

Ira Guha is the Founder and CEO of Asan, a social venture with a mission to eradicate period poverty across the world. As a graduate student at Harvard University, she developed one of the world’s best quality menstrual cups, which is a reusable alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. For every menstrual cup Asan sells, they donate one for free to a person who cannot afford access to any type of period product. Prior to Asan, Ira worked for a fintech startup in Africa and was a digital consultant for Accenture in London. She has a First-Class BA in Politics from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

About Asan

Asan is a social venture with a mission to eradicate period poverty across the world. Working with designers at the Harvard Innovation Lab, Asan developed an innovative menstrual cup that can be reused for up to 10 years (and is far more comfortable than tampons and pads!). The Asan cup features a unique removal ring which makes it extremely easy to use compared with other menstrual cups. Its proprietary design is protected in the US, UK, Europe and India. For every cup Asan sells, they donate one for free to a woman or girl who suffers from period poverty. They also aim to avert millions of tonnes of landfill waste generated by tampons and pads.

My own interest in period poverty

I began researching period poverty in 2017, after meeting a domestic worker in Bangalore who was suffering from terrible rashes and itching caused by low-cost sanitary pads, so bad that she was unable to go to work. Traditionally, Indian women have used cloth rags to manage their period. However, in the last few years, there have been major efforts (both by the government and NGOs/private sector) to promote the use of low-cost disposable sanitary pads. These pads are made from poor materials and tend to be uncomfortable and leak – indeed, many women have switched back from low-cost pads to cloth. Sanitary pads also pose an enormous waste management challenge in countries where garbage disposal infrastructure is under-developed. In India alone some 12.3 billion plastic sanitary pads are sent to landfill each year — each of which takes over 500 years to decompose.

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