SHE Named The 2012 Cartier Women's Initiative Award Winner for Sub-Saharan Africa

SHE Named The 2012 Cartier Women's Initiative Award Winner for Sub-Saharan Africa

New York, NY (October 15, 2012) – SHE’s Julian Kayibanda and Elizabeth Scharpf were honored as the Sub-Saharan African Laureate for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards at a ceremony held at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in Deauville, France this past week.  As the Sub-Saharan African Laureates, Julian and Elizabeth received USD $20,000, coaching support for a full year, access to international networks and media visibility and an exclusive trophy designed by Cartier. 

Julian, Chief Operating Officer, Rwanda is a Rwandese business leader that returned to her home country to contribute to rebuilding her country after the trauma of genocide in the 1990’s. Elizabeth, Founder and Chief Instigating Officer is a Harvard MBA-MPAID graduate with a passion for raising awareness of overlooked problems that have dire socio-economic consequences and a talent for finding market-based solutions.

Together, Julian and Elizabeth launched SHE’s first initiative, SHE28, in Rwanda to address the lack of access to affordable menstrual pads for girls and women.  This overlooked, but pressing, problem is faced by millions of girls and women across emerging economies, many whom cope with sub-optimal choices of using cloth, bark, or even mud, which present reproductive health risks. SHE estimates the economic loss for missed days of school or work in Rwanda alone is at $115 million a year.  SHE’s sustainable approach helps individuals to jumpstart their own businesses to manufacture & distribute locally produced, low-cost, eco-friendly menstrual pads using banana fibers as the absorbent core, i.e the SHE LaunchPad.
“It has been an amazing journey from when we learned that we were a finalist to being here at the Women’s Forum and being completely enriched by meeting amazing women entrepreneurs and business leaders,” says Kayibanda. “This recognition affirms our sustainable model of increasing access to our pads for girls and women in Rwanda and beyond. This award will enable SHE Rwanda to continue to move forward with our industrial-scale pilot phase.”

Recognition as a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Winner demonstrates that investing in women-led businesses can drive shared economic growth that benefits entire communities. SHE has been at the forefront of garnering global support for developing a sustainable system to address public health taboos.

About Sustainable Health Enterprises
Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is a social venture that invests in overlooked people and ideas to drive social and economic change.  Its first initiative, SHE28, is addressing females’ lack of access to affordable menstrual pads, causing significant costs to their health, education, productivity, and dignity. To learn more about SHE, please visit its website at

About Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards:
Created in 2006 by Cartier and the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, in partnership with INSEAD business school and McKinsey & Co., the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is an annual international business plan competition for women entrepreneurs. To view the awards ceremony, watch here: 

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Exciting Phase Has Begun: Our Banana Fiber Extractors are Up and Running!

Dear friends and SHE family,

We are now moving straight forward to the extraction the banana fibers, which will help us to make our pads.  Banana fiber production is the key stage of our overall activities. The arrival of these machines is vital to our industrial-scale pilot: our machines can extract up to 50kgs per a day vs. 1 kg a day by manual extraction (using a machete).  

Our number 1 priority is to make sure that the fiber produced are clean and standardized so we will be working closely with the farmers throughout the entire production process. By working with SHE, banana farmers are now earning income from what was long-considered agro-waste. Our banana farmers will now be selling their fiber to SHE.

20th of September was the official start day of training our banana fiber suppliers, banana farmer co-operatives in Eastern Rwanda, how to use our extraction machines. Local authorities, including the Executive Secretary of the Gatore sector, Consolee Kanzayire, and the Sector Agronomist Frank Munganineza, also attended and encouraged co-operative members to leverage this business opportunity from SHE and to make this business successful. Based on the discussions I had with different banana famers, the added value to the banana is highly appreciated by the community. Check out a video demo of our trainings!

We are planning to set our production center in ETO Kibungo, where we will have different technicians, including SHE Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Abenezer Fanta, manage the full production facility. We are looking to train a few group of women entrepreneurs to help us produce final pads, we also hope that these trained women will be the trainers of other community around the country.

Thanks you for taking your time to read the blog!

-Sylvere, Junior Business Development Analyst

Muraho to SHE's Advocacy and Policy Manager Jackline Mupenzi!

Hello SHE supporters out there!!

It is amazing to know and think that there is someone, somewhere, who took time to transform an idea into a reality that will have a positive impact on generations and generations. I am grateful to my colleague, and Founder of SHE, Elizabeth Scharpf, and the entire senior management team.

I would also like to send my regards to all of you and say that I am delighted to be a part of SHE, and its approach to bring a change through society on behalf of those who cannot do it for themselves. There is a saying, which goes like “Communicate better, lead better.” There is no doubt that the most successful people are good communicators and during the few days in ‘SHE’ I am trying to figure out the best way that I can share my attributes for different purposes such as influencing, persuading, informing with a target of addressing girls' and women's lack of access to affordable menstrual pads leading to missed school and/or work, and potentially harmful health.

During my years of working in different government organizations, the procedure that I was used to was the “downward” flow of information whereby instructions on whatever tasks were initiated by the top management then passed all the way down to the technicians. Although this system works, if you find out the reason why most projects fail, it’s because we do not involve the technicians or the lower level management in the project design process. That’s not the same here at SHE with its well organized and challenging way of doing things which requires each of us to set the vision for our role and then to receive feedback from the entire team members to capture any new ideas.   Honestly speaking, this is the best practice, which is kind of challenging, but is really great because it creates a spirit of innovation, creativity and above all, accountability when it comes to our tasks, especially during the implementation process.

In brief, I thank my new colleagues here in Rwanda, Julian, SHE COO in Rwanda, and also Sylvere and Gerardine for their warm welcome to the team and ideas.

Mupenzi Fesi Jackline ( Jackie)
Advocacy and Policy manager