#swf and long walks on the beach?

April 9, 2012
Oxford, England

Why is E.Scharpf tweeting her online dating profile?  With a hash tag like #swf on my Twitter messages last week, I guess I was asking for that.  But actually, I was in England at the Skoll World Forum for social entrepreneurship.  Started by Jeff Skoll, former President of eBay, it's arguably the premier forum for cutting-edge entrepreneurship in the social sector.  What does that mean?  Who does that include?  Well, that's exactly what I was trying to figure out all three days.

Last year was my first time to Skoll, invited as a speaker on the panel about designing for social good including Fred Swaniker from the African LeadershipAcademy, Bill Drentall from Winterhouse Design and Teach for All, and Debra Dunn, Stanford Professor and former senior exec at Hewlett-Packard.  None of us were architects and seemingly none of us had much in common...except figuring out how to problem solve, in a sustainable way, with positive social change as a leading outcome. 

And that's just it...I think my take-away from last week is that social entrepreneurship can mean many things and engage many people.....like the head of a leading Venture Capital firm, investigator at National Geographic, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the CEO at IDEO.org, a fire eater, juggler, and yes, Annie Lennox. 


It's striking---that solving the greatest problems of our time will call for people of different talents and sectors to come together to work on solutions.  This is a start, and I'm hopeful that it's a beginning of a time when we don't question that it's on everyone's agenda.


What SHE's Reading

Twice a month, we will be sharing articles and reports that we have read and can’t stop talking about. Check out this space every other Tuesday to learn what’s happening in the SHE world.
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Seeing Red - Menstrual Health and Hygiene
  • Our SHE28 initiative focuses on breaking the taboos around menstruation via education, advocacy, and business development in order to unleash economic and social changes in emerging markets. This article highlights the impact of not addressing the silent issue of menstruation: http://bit.ly/x6DSoz
  • SHE launched its “Breaking the Silence” campaign in 2010 in Rwanda to break the taboos around menstruation and bring it to the forefront among girls and women, and also men and boys. The movement is catching on in other countries, and this report summarizes the discussion around Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in South Africa: http://bit.ly/ICkByd
  • A study published in the Indian Journal of Maternal and Child Health among adolescent girls in India revealed a startling lack of knowledge about menstrual health and hygiene practices: http://bit.ly/IkjqaF
  • The New York Times also highlights how the onset of menstruation can be the end of the road for many schoolgirls in rural India due to the lack of MHM education and access for adolescent girls in India: http://nyti.ms/IwRekq

Other Relevant Articles
  • Read an interesting take on the history of social enterprise: http://bit.ly/yBS3oY
  • Water for the People’s CEO Ned Breslin argues that poverty should not be the way to promote the cause, but rather the successes that have been seen when you implement outcomes-based programming: http://bit.ly/GGdMR8
  • Does the list of calories on the McDonald’s menu make you re-think ordering a Big Mac? This Economist article explores the “nudge theory,” the art of gentle manipulation by marketers and policymakers so we can make the right choice despite ourselves. http://econ.st/xvoEKb

Building our Supply Chain in Rwanda

Since I joined the SHE team, I have been actively contributing to multiple brainstorming sessions to determine the best way to secure our banana suppliers. First, my colleague Juliet and I have been developing a six-month work plan that sets out our priorities and the deadlines for each activity we need to do to achieve our overall milestones.

We have three priorities to achieve in the next three months:
(1) Supply chain: We will be meeting frequently with local farmers to negotiate and secure long-term contracts with banana fiber suppliers.
(2) Market research: Continue to develop our different value proposition to our target market segments.
(3) Distribution channel: Developing the best strategy to deliver our product and services to local girls and women.

Sylvere (4th from left) with local leaders and farmers in Eastern Rwanda
I am looking forward to connecting with local authorities and farmers throughout the eastern region of Rwanda to get a deeper insight on how SHE can best partner with the local communities so we can optimize a banana fiber supply chain that beneficial for all parties.
Sylvere Mwizerwa
Junior Business Development Officer