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Seed for Change

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Student Stories


2017 Finalists

Sakhi (2017 Seed for Change Winner) is a social enterprise that provides an innovative, high-quality, low-cost, reusable, and environmentally-safe menstrual cup for women and girls in India, along with a gender and culture-sensitive menstrual health education and training program. Sakhi’s 360-degree approach addresses the significant challenges and taboos faced by the world’s largest menstruating youth population—116 million girls ages 15-24—and the world’s second largest menstruating female population—358 million women between ages 15-54. Sakhi’s team and strategy prioritizes local entrepreneurship and self-sustainability; culture, religion, and gender sensitivity to create positive social norms; and attention to health safety, sanitary practices, infrastructure challenges, and environmental sustainability. Sakhi’s unique medical-silicone sterilizer case with menstrual cup is a one-of-a-kind solution, custom-designed for Sakhi’s demographic that includes married millennials, young mothers, working women, and athletes. Seed for Change’s one-time investment and Sakhi’s community reinvestment strategy will yield project sustainability over the first three years and profitability in subsequent years. Seed for Change’s valuable support will enable Sakhi to incubate the social enterprise to help Indian girls and women eager for an affordable, portable, safe, and hygienic market-based solution to manage their monthly menstruation cycle with dignity, safety, and confidence.

Team Members: Sutopa Dasgupta, Ph.D. student, Harvard University; Andrew Powell; and Usha Venkatachallam


Anantara is a not-for-profit design collective working at the intersection of forest conservation through livelihood creation. By working with forest communities and their emerging small forest enterprises, they seek to convert collector economies into craftsmen communities through design. The focus is on sustainable harvesting and the creation of new value chains and value-added facilities within forest communities, to provide year-round employment opportunity through environmentally reinforcing activities. Forest degradation is linked to unsustainable harvesting, which is a result of acute poverty. Such practices threaten to erode indigenous cultural knowledge that has accrued over centuries as the forest  communities stewarded their ecosystems. There are several NGOs and support institutions actively working to address the issues of forest conservation through sustainable harvesting and livelihood creation, but they have been largely unsuccessful across two major verticals: design development and market linkages. Anantara seeks to bridge this gap by providing branding, product design services, and a marketing platform. They will create value for the support institutions by increasing efficacy of their livelihoods program, and create value for the small forest enterprise by improving their products and providing a market for the same; thus, empowering forest communities to better steward their ecosystems.

Team Members: Aaron Mendonca, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Prathima Muniyappa, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Prabhat Kumar; and Elena Mechik


Barakat Bundle is a nonprofit providing lifesaving bundles to mothers and newborns in South Asia. They package together demand-inducing newborn essentials—such as baby clothes—as well as low-cost, evidence-based public health items—such as clean delivery kits for safe births. They provide them to low-income mothers for the birth of their first child. The medical items in the bundle specifically target causes of maternal and infant mortality and morbidities in targeted regions. The desirable goods incentivize demand for the bundle, encouraging utilization, and some also address cognitive development. Barakat Bundle integrates seamlessly into existing community health worker and health system infrastructure creating a framework for sustainable delivery. For more information, visit

Team Members: Karima Ladhani, Harvard School of Public Health; Nayab Ahmad, Harvard College ’15; Dr. Jyoti Ramakrishna, Harvard School of Public Health; and Amanda Hahnel


2016 Finalist Presentations:

2016 Seed for Change Finalists:

  • GoMango: provides low-cost refrigerated transport to food producers in India.
  • Torr Energy: for-profit company that uses a series of technologies and a unique model to produce and sell low-cost waste-derived solid fuel in remote areas.
  • The Craftsmen: small forest enterprise facilitator that creates new value chains, provides year-round employment, and trains communities in sustainable harvesting practices.

Other student stories:

  • Champion for India’s Girls: Priya Shankar, MPH ’16, is launching a peer education program to help girls live healthy lives

  • Alum Q+A: Saving the environment and improving women’s lives, one pad at a timeSaathi, founded by several MIT and Harvard graduates, has developed an eco-friendly sanitary pad made from local banana fiber that is fully compostable and bio-degradable. They hope it will give women more freedom in India and other developing countries.

  • Alum Q+A: Saving lives at birth: Sabeena Jalal, an alum of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and currently based in Karachi, has developed a blade to be used by midwives during childbirth to cut the umbilical cord. The blade does not get infected, so she hopes the tool can reduce the rate of infant mortality in developing countries.
  • Alum Q+A: A new model for education: Taktse International School is a not-for-profit coeducational school located in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, near Gangtok, Sikkim, India. The school encourages creativity and innovation among students, with a goal of “producing the compassionate and ethical leaders that developing societies so desperately need.”
  • Alum Q+A: Using entrepreneurship to impact education in Pakistan“When you take the first step, the landscape changes and you see opportunities instead of challenges,” says Imran Sarwar, Harvard Kennedy School alum, about entrepreneurship. Sarwar is the co-founder of Rabtt, which aims to change the education landscape in Pakistan.

Harvard i-Lab


The following courses are examples of project-based classes at Harvard that encourage entrepreneurship (please note, this is not a complete list):

  • CS50: Introduction to Computer Science, David. J. Malan
  • US World 36: Innovation and Entrepreneurship: American Experience in Comparative Perspective, Mihir A. Desai
  • Engineering Sciences 139: Innovation in Science and Engineering: Conference Course, David A. Weitz
  • ES 239: Advanced Innovation in Science and Engineering, David A. Weitz
  • SCI-PHYUNV 27: Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science, David A. Weitz
  • Electrical Engineering 50, Marko Loncar
  • SOC-WORLD 26 Africa and Africans: The Making of a Continent in the Modern World, Caroline M. Elkins
  • ENG-SCI 20: How to Create Things and Have Them Matter, David A. Edwards
  • Cultural Agents, Doris Sommer
  • SW47: Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems, Tarun Khanna
  • SW47:A132 Educational Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Comparative Perspective, Fernando Reimers