When Design & Print Co LTD launched in 2011, the big idea was to power large format digital printing in Mauritius. The company, founded by Lalita, would print mainly outdoor advertising: billboards and banners. A few years later, they realized that they had become part of an industry that generates a lot of solid waste.
Recent reports show that less than 30% of urban waste in developing countries is collected and disposed of appropriately, and the implications of such are dire and numerous. From growing health concerns to environmental pollution, Lalita found herself contemplating the impact of the work she was involved in, which made her design a new concept for her company. Instead of discarding the waste, she decided to collect them in the basement of the house she shared with her husband.
After 4 years however, after the waste had piled and become increasingly, and obviously a misfit, it was time to get rid of them. In this crossroad, Lalita got the idea of upcycling the old banners into bags. It took her almost two years to set up a proper chain to upcycle the banners. Sakili, the brand name of her upcycle bags made from advertising trash was launched in 2018 and has since made more than 100,000 products. Through this journey, Lalita has made a name for herself in the upcycling industry in Mauritius, which is a booming market being a tourist haven and environmentally conscious.
Keeping her entrepreneurial spirit alive, Lalita went further into her career and started researching on natural sanitary napkins as well, using her curiosity to explore business opportunities that are nature-conscious and sustainable. After a trip to India in 2017, where she first used natural pads, she was convinced that she could improve the quality and made something better for the Mauritian women.
After eighteen months of lab research and testing, Lalita and her team made the first natural biodegradable sanitary pad in Mauritius. It is 100% natural, made of corn and bamboo fibres. Recycle Moi, the brand name of the pads, was launched in October 2019 and have so far developed 3 categories; regular, extra-long and in March 2021, introduced the panty liners.
This idea is what made her a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur in 2019, and so far, her most significant achievement has been the ability to bring sustainable and affordable solutions that are more sustainable alternatives to plastic products. Through her eco-friendly brands, Lalita is raising a more mindful community. In addition to that, she is creating jobs for women in the community.
For the future, Lalita hopes to expand production by introducing more biodegradable products in the personal hygiene section and reduce her organization’s carbon footprint as much as possible in the manufacturing industry. During the first lockdown in Mauritius in March 2020, Lalita shifted her bag manufacturing production to fabric face masks production, always willing to be innovative and reinvent her business model if there is the need to in order to get things done. For her, entrepreneurs need to know when and how to adjust their sails.