“Over 1.5 million children die each year due to infectious illnesses,” Subham Issar, co-founder of the product, SoaPen says. “And the majority of these illnesses can be prevented by the simple act of washing your hands at key times.”
1.5 million is a staggering number of preventable deaths, and while the solution may seem simple, in the developing world, there’s a huge portion of the population that doesn’t even have access to soap. It’s a problem that troubled Issar and Amanat Anand. Disease prevention is vital, the young women say, because these are often areas where healthcare access is minimal or inaccessible. The key is to keep kids from getting sick at all.
Issar and Anand didn’t have chemical engineering backgrounds — they had studied industrial design — but they had a vision of a product that could provide soap access to children around the world. So, they assembled a team and set out to create what would become the SoaPen. Filled with colorful, antibacterial soap, the SoaPen looks like a toy that children can use to draw colorfully on their hands. Then, when they go to wash the paint off, it creates a lather and disinfects. The goal is to create a lifelong habit of hand washing while providing the product to facilitate it.
The journey to create SoaPen hasn’t been easy. Especially as the two women, both under 25, tried to succeed in the male-dominated manufacturing industry. But even after having the door slammed in their faces repeatedly, the duo is following their passion and they’ve got a team of women to help them.
“We just don’t quit,” Graphic designer for the project, Maria Pudri, says.
There are challenges, but SoaPen founders won’t be discouraged. They’re going to keep going, and along the way, they plan to save lives.
To learn more about the James Dyson Award, visit https://www.jamesdysonaward.org.