Success means... having the courage to do what you believe in.
Three adjectives that describe me are... Enterprising, Spirited, Ingenious
You can’t run a business... without gusto and resilience
In the next 10 years... I will still be me!
ayzh (pronounced “eyes”) is social enterprise built from the ground up (“for women by women”) to tackle the largest loss of human life that our species experiences every year - the loss of more than 5 million women and babies in pregnancy, childbirth and the first month of life. With a mission to bring simplicity and dignity to women’s health worldwide, ayzh “completes the circle of women’s health” (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent) with a comprehensive product suite that addresses the most critical times in life for the world’s most vulnerable women, babies and girls (including Clean Birth Kits, Essential Newborn Care Kits, Postpartum Health Kits, and Menstrual Hygiene Kits). In addition to providing women with access to life-saving, life-changing products, our sustainable business model provides education and training for health workers; promotes gender equality in the workplace and in healthcare systems; and generates employment and economic opportunity for rural women.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? Is having your own business something you always wanted to have?
As a young girl growing up in India, I witnessed many women and families suffering from health and financial hardship. I always wanted to find ways to end that suffering. While my father struggled with generating a sustainable source of Income for our household, I helped my mother start a tailoring business. Little did I know this venture and combined with my passion to help women was a spark to a future career as a social entrepreneur. After earning my engineering degree in Sweden, determined to take that learning back home, I spent four years working in India developing various kinds of appropriate technology for low-resource settings. During the course of this work, I began to realize that too many great innovations never got out of prototyping and actually into the hands of those who need it most. Seeing this disconnect, I suddenly knew then I wanted to “spin off” on my own as an entrepreneur and close that “last mile” gap. I decided to obtain my MBA in Global, Social and Sustainable Enterprise at Colorado State University, and figure out how to apply by engineering background to sustainably bring appropriate technology to market for significant and scalable impact.
How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
While doing field research in a rural village in India, I discovered that some midwives used a sickle – a blade for cutting grass – to cut the umbilical cord. This was my “aha” moment that launched me into the world of maternal health. Reflecting on an infection I suffered after the birth of my first son, I wondered, “If I had to suffer infection at one of the best facilities in India with the best technology available, what are women in these villages facing?” In my recent TED Talk, I describe this journey, which ultimately led to launching ayzh with my design of janma Clean Birth Kit in a Purse on the basis that no woman should die or suffer from a preventable cause, especially while giving life in childbirth. Our first product, a $3 Clean Birth Kit in a Purse (named “janma” meaning “birth” in Hindi) was specifically designed to prevent infection at the time of childbirth.
How do you generate new ideas to stay relevant on the market? Is it important to innovate in your space
All R&D at ayzh is guided by “human centered design.” We are committed to engaging customers, caregivers, beneficiaries, and experts to understand maternal/newborn health needs; innovate and co-create product and service offerings based on quality and affordability; and develop education, training and advocacy initiatives that support demand creation for health and hygiene throughout a woman’s reproductive life for intergenerational impact. Our core beneficiaries (pregnant women, mothers, birth attendants) are regularly consulted for feedback – their voices, unique needs, hopes and dreams for a better life drive all innovation at ayzh. Rather than innovating and working on women’s health issues in silos (Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent), our integrated product suite promotes the importance of health and hygiene across the entire continuum of women’s health.
What is your proudest accomplishment of this year? What are you looking forward the most in the next 12 months?
One exciting accomplishment this year was taking another big leap towards my next big dream as an entrepreneur. Now that ayzh is running as a sustainable business, I am branching out to lend my experience and vision help more women entrepreneurs be successful. Just recently, I incorporated the Happy Woman Foundation to catalyze the next wave of changes that enable women to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, and wield public influence at a grand scale to create a stronger, happier, and healthier tomorrow for generations to come. Let's face it. The world would be a better place if more women and mothers were able to launch, grow and scale their own businesses. Over the next twelve months, I’m looking forward to raising $500,000 to to provide women entrepreneurs with real resources and financial support — especially mothers and women of color, who are underrepresented in the world of entrepreneurship. The Happy Woman Foundation will do the following:
Elevate: Platform to raise the voice of women entrepreneurs through storytelling and speaking opportunities, giving visibility to their unique successes, challenges, and learnings.
Educate: Ongoing leadership and skill training for funding recipients, as well as larger scale convenings to "Bring Happiness to Entrepreneurship." We aim to build deep social capital and foster individual resilience and persistence for female entrepreneurs whose journeys foster dignity and equality in the world.
Endow: Grants and entrepreneurship insurance for women so that they can take the risks needed to show a return on investment. We aim to prove that such investments can enable women to help themselves, their families, and their communities become stronger, wealthier, and healthier.
My vision is an ecosystem in which women who decide to pursue a career, or an entrepreneurial journey, are surrounded by mind sets and policies that provide them with the support they need. Happy Woman Foundation aims aims to normalize a new narrative demonstrating the powerful truth that while women are currently underestimated, they're amongst the best startup founders today, doing more with less. Womanhood and motherhood should not be viewed as a hindrance to entrepreneurship, but as essential to creating a healthier, wealthier, and more equitable world.