Biography

Born in a lower middle-class family in India, Zubaida Bai has taken on the mantle of being a strong and compassionate voice who will speak to the real but often unspoken hardships faced by women around the world. For a decade and a half, growing up in India, Ms. Bai witnessed firsthand women struggling with poor health and economic hardship, often unable to rise out of poverty despite always going beyond their calling. This drudgery and inequity began at a young age and continued all their lives. She promised herself that she would dedicate her life towards alleviating this silent suffering of women.

Fast-forward two decades, today Ms. Bai is recognized for her work on improving women’s health around the world. As a mechanical engineer, social entrepreneur, public speaker, and mother of three, Ms. Bai innovates health and livelihood solutions for underserved women and girls worldwide. Leveraging her unique passion and expertise she is keeping her promise by becoming a voice for the silent women globally.
Ms. Bai is the founder and CEO of ayzh (pronounced “eyes”), a social enterprise with offices in India, US, and Kenya that designs vital healthcare products to improve the health and happiness of women and girls across their reproductive lives. After traveling to the poorest communities in India and confronting the reality that over one million mothers and babies lose their lives in the developing world each year due to uncleanliness at the time of childbirth, she launched her company with janma, a $3 Clean Birth Kit in a Purse, packaged in pink biodegradable jute purse. After their delivery mothers are able to take their purse with them and it serves as an advocacy tool initiating discussion around hygiene during childbirth. The kit provides both cleanliness and dignity to women at the time of childbirth. To date her company has impacted lives of over a million mothers, newborns, and girls.
The United Nations Global Compact says of her work, “Ms. Zubaida Bai is demonstrating how the SDGs can enable business to unlock economic, social, and environmental gains for the world.” Ms. Bai has attracted strategic partners from around the world who have written about her work. TOMS shared her Safe Birth Story; USAID blogged about how she’s Empowering Women Through a Simple Purse; and Grand Challenges Canada recognizes her lead role in scaling Life-Changing Kits for Mothers and Newborns.

Ms. Bai believes that building a sustainable company takes a great team, stamina, and a sturdy suitcase. She is fluent in eight languages and travels the world constantly redefining herself, forging new partnerships and advocating for women’s health and equity. She has spoken at events for Women in the World, Pfizer Foundation, and Women Deliver. You can watch her Mashable Social Good Summit or view her TED Talk. Ms. Bai is a Mechanical Engineer who specializes in the Development of Modular Products, and a Business Graduate experienced in developing Social and Sustainable Enterprises.

Expertises

  • Business Strategy
  • Leadership
  • Social Change

Languages

  • English

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Topics

Designing for the Bottom of the Pyramid

The poor are not poor in mind. The global poor have the capacity and willingness to pay for products if they can see value in it. It’s a trillion-dollar industry if you can convey the right message and create a product for them. Poverty has been falling consistently over the last two centuries. By ignoring this population and assuming they do not need as much attention as the elite clients, we are losing out on a potentially huge market. The classic example is Janma: The Clean Birth kit in a Purse. Ms. Bai will speak of her journey creating a company and a product for the poor, involving those who were never asked what they wanted.  She will take her audience from idea to market and through all aspects along that spectrum from validation of idea, co-creation with consumers, strategic planning and launch, and analyzing global scale.

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The Good of Failure

Ms. Bai will speak about simplifying complex problems in business, eliminating the word failure by using real life experiences and learning on the go. She will share examples from ayzh, her own enterprise, as well as from other social enterprises. All setbacks and iterations are learning tools to use in building better strategies. We can use the agility and speed inherent in a start-up to help companies innovate.

When faced with difficult challenges in an unpredictable, mission-critical business environment, innovation becomes important, and cannot be ignored. During the process of innovation, failure loses its traditional negative context as it allows you to iterate and improve and develop a long-term strategy.

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Designing for Good with Interdisciplinary Skills

Having worked at the intersection of global health, business, and engineering, here Ms. Bai will talk about innovating low-cost products customized for low income populations. She will share her experience of building a global company over the last decade using interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. Design involves working with all stakeholders and addressing their requirements. As the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Claremont Graduate University in Trans-Disciplinary Studies, Ms. Bai will explain the co-creation process in business and how ayzh involved customers and stakeholders to design and build a company around their needs. She will venture into how skill and design innovation helped them reframe their intellectual space and grapple with issues of great complexity. She celebrates transformations that result from boundary-crossing, creative, socially conscious work. Ms. Bai’s talk can profoundly shape and influence your enterprise and her creative and connective spirit can be a model for your organization and beyond.

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Giving Birth to Change

Building a company to serve the poor is very much like giving birth. It is risky, messy, sometimes painful, often scary, but profoundly life affirming. Then, adding the challenge of being a sustainable for-profit enterprise creates an even more exciting potential for giving birth to really big change. It is Ms. Bai’s wish to share an eyes-wide-open look at her journey, hoping to prepare and inspire many others to try being an entrepreneur/intrapreneur… because there is much critical need and work to be done all over the globe. This will be an inspirational and enlightening talk for people from all walks of life to better understand the needs and lives of women and girls globally.

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Pioneering for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

As a 2016 SDG Pioneer, Ms. Bai can talk about many of these 17 Global Goals, which are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. She can bring these goals into focus and make them relevant to corporate interests, their foundations, or philanthropic branches. She will include her own company’s planning for impact using SDGs; how she unlocked social and economic gains that simultaneously lifted the global burden of maternal and infant mortality and ill health, employed and empowered women, strengthened local supply chains, and engaged strategic partners. “Integrated Innovation” still is the need of the hour to ensure simple, effective technology consistently reaches those who need it most.

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New Perspectives Through Travel

Traveling outside of your familiar zones can inspire you, give you fresh ideas, open unexpected doors, and expand your cultural literacy. It could be to a new neighborhood, a new city, or a far-away country. Many businesses are international, and our society more and more globalized. Our understanding of the systems and customs operating in other places can only bring advantages in the workplace. Ms. Bai believes that travel is also good for your mind and spirit. Buying lunch from a street vendor, meeting someone in a shop, even these small connections help us see the lives of those in other places from a new perspective. Her own moment of inspiration for her company, ayzh, came from wandering in rural India and coming upon a midwife who showed her a sickle used to cut grass–that she also used to cut the umbilical cord when delivering babies in her hut. An eye-opening moment.

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