Nav SAWHNEY: The Washing Machine Project

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  • Tell us something about yourself, your background:

I am an engineer by profession. Before I founded The Washing Machine Project (TWMP) in 2018, I have worked at Jaguar Land Rover, Prakti Pvt Ltd and Dyson in the field of Research and Engineering. My professional background is coupled with my passion and drive for humanitarianism. As a result of this passion, I volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and moved to South India, in the Village of Kallipalayam, Tamil Nadu in 2016.

  • Tell us about the product you invented with a brief explanation:

 Divya: a manual, off-grid washing machine which does not require an electrical supply, has a drum capacity of 5kg and only uses 20 litres of water per cycle.

  • How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?

 In Tamil Nadu, I befriended my neighbour Divya who I noticed would spend up to 20 hours a week handwashing clothes. She often spoke about the aches and pains that were caused due to excessive handwashing. 

“My hands hurt all the time and I have skin irritations and my back hurts” — Divya

Nav and Divya in India 
  • How did you get from idea to finished product?

 Listening to Divya’s story, I was inspired to use my skills to develop something that would reduce hours of unpaid labour. An electric washing machine would have been too costly and would require electricity which is not always available in deprived regions. I was determined to develop a hand-crank washing machine. Under TWMP, I designed a manual, off-grid washing machine which does not require an electrical supply, has a drum capacity of 5kg and only uses 20 litres of water per cycle. I decided to call it “Divya”.

At TWMP, the team conducts research on how to make the washing machines up to date with existing and new challenges. We also run workshops in primary and secondary schools on domestic and unpair labour and the workings of Divya, our manual washing machine. In 2019, TWMP partnered with Iraq Response Innovation Lab and Oxfam to install 50 Divyas which have helped displaced people living in refugee camps in Kurdish and Federal Iraq. Moving forward, the organization plans to install an updated prototype, Divya Two, to several deprived regions across the globe.

  • Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc

Factfulness by by Hans Rosling is a book that changed my life and gave me a different perspective of the World. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to view global trends and issues with a more realistic lens.

  • Website, Social Media and Video Links:

  • Facebook: Click HERE


  • Twitter: Click HERE 

  • Instagram: Click HERE

  • LinkedIn: Click HERE 

  • Website: Click HERE 

  • Videos link: Click HERE

End of Interview
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