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香蕉树皮变护垫:哈佛创业冠军的印度梦

2014-05-09    来源:fortune.com    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

一个叫做“萨蒂”、致力于为印度农村妇女提供低成本卫生巾和工作机会的社会企业日前赢得哈佛商学院新创业大赛最高奖。创始人之一阿姆瑞塔•赛加尔说,希望这个项目能帮助今天的印度妇女避免她祖母小时候的窘境。

Harvard MBA candidate Amrita Saigal (class of 2014) and her co-founder, Oracle engineer Kristin Kagetsu, swept Harvard Business School's top entrepreneurship contest on Tuesday, nabbing the grand prize and the audience choice award in the New Venture Competition's social entrepreneurship category.
上周二,哈佛大学(Harvard University)2014届MBA学生阿姆瑞塔•赛加尔和她的创业伙伴、甲骨文公司(Oracle)工程师克里斯汀•卡盖楚在哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)主办的顶级创业大赛中出尽风头,一举囊括了新创业大赛(New Venture Competition)社会企业家组别大奖和最受观众喜爱奖。

Their idea? Saathi -- a social enterprise startup that provides low-cost sanitary napkins and jobs to women in rural India. The two, who both hold mechanical engineering degrees from MIT, wowed both the judges and the jam-packed audience at the Harvard event, drawing top marks – enough to push them ahead of a farm-to-market tomato paste producer in Nigeria, a school tuition program in Colombia, and an education consulting service. The two will use their $50,000 prize to move to India and open up shop.
她们的创意是什么呢——成立一家叫做“萨蒂”(Saathi)的社会企业,为印度农村妇女提供低成本卫生巾和工作机会。这两位都持有麻省理工学院(MIT)机械工程学位的参赛者获得了赛事评委和满堂现场观众的交口称赞,最终击败了其他参赛者的创意——在尼日利亚建立一家采用农户加企业模式的番茄酱生产商,在哥伦比亚创设一个学费计划,以及一个教育咨询服务。两人打算携带5万美元奖金,去印度实践她们的创业梦想。

Poets&Quants caught up with Saigal at HBS shortly after Saathi's big win. She explains everything from the inspiration behind the idea to the HBS classes and professors that played a pivotal role in creating the business.
萨蒂大获全胜后不久,社交网站Poets&Quants在哈佛商学院对赛加尔进行了独家专访。她敞开心扉,畅谈了这个创意的灵感源泉,以及哈佛商学院课程和教授对这次创业做出的重大贡献等话题。

 

 

阿姆瑞塔•赛加尔(右一)

What gave you the idea for Saati?
这个创意是如何产生的?

I landed an internship my junior year as an undergraduate engineering student at MIT with Proctor & Gamble (PG) in the feminine hygiene division. I was 21 years old and did not realize that feminine hygiene meant Always and Tampax -- I thought it meant Head & Shoulders and Pantene.
我此前在麻省理工学院(MIT)学习工程专业,上大三那年,我在宝洁公司(Proctor & Gamble)女性卫生事业部获得了一个实习机会。那时我21岁,还没有意识到宝洁女性卫生产品指的是好自在(Always)和丹碧丝(Tampax),我还以为是海飞丝(Head & Shoulders)和潘婷(Pantene)。

I showed up on the first day and was honestly shocked at what I found. I was a designer, and designing equipment that summer, I was confronted with the fact that women in rural India didn't have access to pads. Girls were not going to school because of pads. So that was the inspiration. And I knew I could get people passionate about this idea I really cared about.
说老实话,上班第一天,我就发现了一件让我万分震惊的事情。我是一位设计师,那个暑期正在设计设备,一个事实横亘在我面前:印度农村的妇女竟然没有护垫可用。由于护垫问题,女孩没法去上学。这就是灵感源泉。这个创意就是这么来的。我知道我可以让人们对它产生浓厚的兴趣。

So I came back to MIT my senior year and convinced my senior design team that we should create a small-scale manufacturing process to make pads out of some type of locally available fiber. We looked at a number of fibers and partnered with a chemical engineering team at MIT who told us that the bark of a banana tree is the most absorbent fiber in the world and it's readily available.
大四那年返回校园后,经过我的一番劝说,我的设计团队开始开创一个小规模的制造工艺,利用印度农村现有的纤维制造护垫。我们观察了许多种纤维,还跟麻省理工学院的一个化学工程团队展开了合作。他们透露说,香蕉树的树皮是世界上最吸水的纤维,而且它是现成的。

The interesting thing about banana trees, which I didn't know, is that from the time you plant the tree to the time you get the bananas takes nine to 12 months. But they only produce the bananas once, and then you have to cut down the main shoot every year. The farmers cut it up into little pieces and use some of it as fertilizer, but they just stack the majority of it in piles and piles, waiting for it to decompose.
香蕉树有一个很有意思的现象。我当时还不知道,从种树到收获香蕉需要9到12个月,但香蕉树只能结一次果,果农每年都得砍掉主茎。他们通常会把它砍成许多小块,其中一些被用作化肥,但绝大多数都被果农简单地堆积起来,等着腐烂。

How do you produce the final product? Are consumers okay with tree trunk?
最终的产品是如何生产的?消费者是否接受这种用树干做成的护垫?

We process the bark into fibers so it comes out as stringy pieces, which are dried and pulverized, and that provides filling for the pads. So it's a nice fluffy material that we've all tried and the consumers are fine with it.
我们把树皮加工成纤维,就这样,它最终变成一种干燥的粉末状纤维质材料,完全可以用来填充护垫。所以说,它是一种非常蓬松的材质,我们都尝试过了,消费者对它很满意。

What does the recent win mean for you?
最近获得的这个奖项对你意味着什么?

That we'll be able to go to India and actually launch the business – we'll be on the ground and able to work directly with the women.
有了这笔钱,我们就可以去印度真正启动这项事业。也就是说,我们能够走进印度乡村,直接跟妇女们合作。

Is there anything you would compare it with?
你生命中还有没有什么事情可以跟这个奖项相提并论?

Other than winning this competition, the two most exciting things in my life were getting into MIT -- I always wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and I never thought there was a chance -- and honestly the same for HBS. You just never think you will. It's like, "Am I the admissions mistake?" I would say getting into those two schools is equivalent to this.
除了赢得这项大赛,在我的人生中还有两件让我最兴奋的事情,其一是考入麻省理工学院——我一直梦想成为一位机械工程师,但从来没想到真的会有这样一个机会。另一件事情就是被哈佛商学院录取。说真的,我简直不敢相信,寻思着“是不是招生官员搞错了?”这就是我被这两所学校录取时的感受。

What are your long-term plans for the business?
对于这项事业,你有什么长远的规划?

By the end of this year we hope to be in five villages. The way our business model works is we partner with rural women self-help groups, which are groups of about 10 women that gather together to start their own microenterprises.
我们希望到今年年底能进入5个村庄。我们的商业模式是与农村妇女自助团体合作。这类团体由大约10名妇女组成,她们聚集在一起开创自己的小微企业。

These women will purchase a machine from us for $500 and they're able to repay that within three months. It's not like a 10-year investment. Then they will manufacture their own pads and run their own businesses, managing their own books and accounts. You need two women to operate the machine and the other eight to sell these pads in their local communities using a door-to-door distribution model.
这些妇女需要花500美元从我们手中购买一台机器,她们3个月内就能偿还这笔款项。这可不是一个长达10年的投资。接下来,她们就能开始生产自己的护垫,经营自己的企业,管理自己的账簿。操作这台机器只需要两名妇女,剩下的8个人采用挨家挨户的配送模式在当地的社区销售这些护垫。

We're targeting villages with a population of 10,000 people, which corresponds to roughly 2,700 women of menstruating age in that village. The idea is one village per machine. We want these women to start their own enterprises.
我们的目标是拥有10000人口的村庄,这类村庄通常有大约2,700名处于月经年龄的妇女。一个村庄一台机器。我们希望这些妇女能够创办自己的企业。

The main goal is to address the three A's: affordability (using waste banana tree fiber); availability (doing local manufacturing); and the biggest one is awareness (using door-to-door distribution and word-of-mouth marketing).
我们主要想解决3个问题:通过使用废弃的香蕉树纤维解决可承受性问题(affordability);通过本土生产解决可得性问题(availability);采用挨家挨户的配送模式和口碑营销来解决最大的一个问题——提升村民的意识(awareness)。

The idea is that whatever village you're in, whatever country you're in, your local resources should be able to adapt to your needs – whether it's coconut fiber or papyrus. This is not just about finding affordable pads but really trying to help these rural women feel empowered, to run their own enterprises and move up the socioeconomic ladder.
我们的想法是,无论你住在哪个村庄,哪个国家,你的本地资源应该能够适应你的需求——无论这种资源是椰子纤维,还是纸莎草。这项事业的目的不仅仅是帮助农村妇女找到她们能够负担得起的护垫,我们其实还想让她们觉得自己到获得了权力,帮助她们经营自己的企业,提升她们的社会经济地位。

My grandmother grew up in a very rural village and missed school every month because it was taboo to go during this time. She says to this day it was something she was always upset about. To know that someone in my family went through this is ridiculous. If we can be the ones to solve this issue, it would mean the world to us.
我祖母就是在农村长大的,每个月总有几天不能去上学。因为那时候,女孩月经期间去上学是一种忌讳。她说,直到今天,想起这段往事,她还是很难过。知道我的家人曾经亲身经历过这种窘境,真是让人觉得荒唐可笑。如果我们最终能够解决这个问题,那对我们来说就是天大的成就。(财富中文网)



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