SHE Golfs is a Hole in One!

The SHE team includes more than our staff and our partners - it's also includes you. SHE depends on you to spread awareness of our SHE28 campaign and are grateful when individuals or groups make a commitment to promote SHE in their networks and communities by hosting a SHE Soiree. Two high school students, Thomas Schmedding and Lena McCord, recently organized a "SHE Golfs" tournament and raised over $2,000 on our behalf! 
Learn more about the event from Thomas and Lena, two awesome SHE trailblazers we are grateful to have part of our team!

"The golf tournament occurred on a beautiful December day at Wildwood Green Golf Club in Raleigh, NC. This was our first project of this magnitude and we weren't sure what to expect, but we went into it with an open mind. After receiving sponsorships from Nomacorc LLC, Red Wolf LLC, and the international health organization, Futures Group, we decided to promote our tournament throughout the local media. We received write-ups in several area newspapers, as well as a PSA on Duke University's radio station. Lena and I decided to offer the tournament at a relatively inexpensive $28 per person. We did this to coincide with the SHE28 promotional campaign. The event received 64 registrations, alongside many small donations from our friends and families. 

As students who place a lot of emphasis on marketing and customer satisfaction, we believed that it was a necessity to provide our players with a welcoming environment. Throughout the course, we set up many golf-style games including a hockey stick putting contest and a longest drive competition. Upon the conclusion of the tournament, we offered lunch and awards to those participating in the tournament. To date, our efforts have raised $2080 for Sustainable Health Enterprises. We hope to grow that number over the coming months as we continue to promote this organization."

Thanks again Thomas, Lena, and all those who participated in SHE Golfs! If you want to host a SHE Soiree, contact us and let us know how we can help you host an equally successful event!

Breaking the Menstrual Hygiene Silence

COO's Unite! SHE COO, Global CeCe Camacho with SHE COO, Rwanda Julian Kayibanda.

I traveled to Rwanda to visit my SHE colleagues back in August and came back optimistic and inspired.  One afternoon as all our staff were walking to lunch (we were looking for the Africa Bagel Company), I couldn’t help but notice this public service sign on the side of the road.  

It was of a family gathered together.  The caption of the sign read: “Talk to your children about sex, it could save their lives.”  The sign was sponsored by the Imbuto Foundation, an organization founded by Rwandan’s First Lady, Jennette Kagame.  I must admit that I was intrigued.  Investigating their website I learned more about the impetus behind this sign.  After perusing their various health, youth, and education programs I discovered it came out of a project to support adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights. The project works in partnerships with schools and health centers as “agents of change” to increase health knowledge and impact behaviors.

SHE is an advocate of girl’s education as well as a proponent of talking with girls about their sexual and reproductive health and how menstruation is natural process of the reproductive cycle. However, around the world, talking about menstruation remains taboo and having open conversations is often difficult. Because of this deafening silence, menstrual hygiene management is a challenge for girls and women.  Girls and women lack access to affordable pads, proper sanitation facilities and the reproductive and sexual health information to understand why they are menstruating and how to manage it. Ultimately, girls and women are denied their rights to health, education and gender equity, sanitation and dignity.

At SHE we are breaking the silence. A greater awareness of menstrual hygiene demands that both men and women—fathers and mothers as well as teachers alike— talk with their daughters and students. SHE is working in partnership with many stakeholders at both the community, national and global level to ensure this. While I was visiting, Julian, SHE’s COO in Rwanda, and I met with the Ministry of Education’s School Health Plan Committee to advocate for the inclusion of menstrual hygiene education in the schools and training for teachers.  SHE was met with support, enthusiasm and partnership opportunities.  

SHE is also a co-publisher of the resource book Menstrual Hygiene Matters  which is now available on the WaterAid website. This valuable tool for practitioners includes nine modules and toolkits covering key aspects of menstrual hygiene for different settings such as communities, schools and emergencies.

At SHE we are also innovating.  Talking about menstrual hygiene also needs to be coupled with an effective and affordable menstrual product that girls like. SHE is going from small to industrial-scale production of our SHE LaunchPads. We will be producing 300,000 SHE LaunchPads for 3,000 Rwandan school girls attending 10 schools in the Kayonza district in the next couple of months.

Clearly, the time in Rwanda is ripe for supporting girl’s menstrual hygiene. We believe the SHE LaunchPad will create economic opportunities in Rwandan communities as well as enhance girls’ educational opportunities, impact health while restoring dignity.  I must admit I couldn’t help but envision a SHE public service sign of a girl gathered with her mother and father.  The caption of the sign would read: “Break the menstrual silence and talk with your daughter, it could keep her in school.”  

Join us now in making this happen - support our SHE28 campaign and break the silence. Period. 

Optimistic and Inspired,


SHE is a Rising Star in Global Health as Recipient of 100K Grant from Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Government of Canada, recently announced $100,000 grants to 51 innovators in 18 low and middle income countries worldwide.  
SHE with our COO, Rwanda, Julian Kayibanda as Principal Investigator, has been awarded $100,000 to our pursue bold, creative idea to tackle the problem of lack of access to menstrual pads with our social enterprise model!

SHE has the potential to receive $1 million for an additional Grand Challenges Canada scale-up funding of $1 million. The timing of this investment, along with the affirmation from Grand Challenges Canada in our business model, could not have been better as we move forward with our industrial-scale pilot of mass producing 300,000 SHE LaunchPads for 3,000 Rwandan schoolgirls at 10 Eastern district schools. 

We are honored to receive this grant and receive further affirmation of our approach to tackling poverty and health at a global scale. Thanks to Grand Challenges Canada for their dedication toward supporting bold ideas with significant impact in global health. 

Check out our grantee page to learn more about the award.

Check It: Chief Instigating Officer Explains How Banana Fibers Keeps Women Working on PBS NewsHour

Check out Elizabeth Scharpf's latest interview on PBS NewsHour in which she describe SHE's approach for addressing the problem of lack of access to menstrual pads via social entrepreneurship. Elizabeth's interview is part of The NewsHour's Agents for Change series that highlights individuals helping communities solve problems, build businesses and create jobs.

Listen to Elizabeth explain SHE's model:

SHE's A Family Affair

Since this summer, I have been meeting with hundreds of schoolgirls all across the Kayonza district, the site of our industrial-scale pilot. I realized they all share a common experience regarding menstrual hygiene management while at school that I am sure you would find interesting:
  • I visited 10 different schools, yet all the girls said currently available menstrual pads are expensive. They even devised a pricing strategy – that the price of pads should be proportional to the number of pads in a package = one pad for 100 RWF.
  • When it comes to product choice, the girls don’t have any choice what type of menstrual pads they would like to use. Only one imported brand is available at the nearest shop.
  • The one imported brand that is available, however, doesn’t meet their full expectations. Many girls complained that the pads don’t stick well to the underwear and that 10 pads/pack are not enough for those who have a heavy flow.
  • There’s still a huge desire for menstrual hygiene education. The girls realize that they don’t know the full story when it comes to menstruation and proper hygiene management.
Despite lack of reliable access to menstrual pads, the schoolgirls are still active. I enjoyed learning about their lives outside of school: some of these girls play football and are members of the school team; others are members of dancing clubs.

One story that Nyiraminani, a 15-year old student at Gs Gishanda, shared with me shows how girls overcome the menstrual taboos is by being entrepreneurial! Her parents provide her pads while she’s at school, but during the holidays, she has to use cloths. Nyiraminani works hard to please her mother, in return to earn money that she can use to buy pads during the holidays.

“During the holidays we look for a way to get pads. We help our parents with chores in order to earn money. Therefore, I get up early to go to fetch wood, then I cut grass for the cows, and I cook. In the afternoon, I sweep the ground and clean dishes. After I complete all these chores, I sit with my mother and she says that I am a good girl and that I work hard. Then I feel comfortable asking her for money, even though I don’t say it’s for pads, and she provides it to me.”

SHE's a family affair - we are talking to girls and their mothers, some of whom are also our banana fiber suppliers.
On the other hand, when I talked to Mama Fasila, one of the banana farmers who are part of our banana fiber supply partnership with the Kamara co-op, she told me that many young girls are still afraid to request money for pads. She remarked, “Girls don’t dare ask money for pads from their fathers when the mother is absent. They will just stay at home, miss school and wait for their mothers to return and ask on their behalf.” As we discussed, Mama Fasila told us that many mothers don’t initiative the conversation to discuss menstruation with their daughters. They assume that they will learn about this at school.

While SHE’s industrial-scale pilot will be centered at the school level, insights and buy-in from parents, especially mothers, is critical to ensure our success. I look forward to learning more from the mothers, which is my next project.


- Gerardine, Junior Marketing Officer

SHE is in search of Business Wizards located in India

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), recognized by Harvard Business School, Echoing Green, and Bill Clinton as an innovative social enterprise, aims to drive social and economic change through sustainable business development in emerging markets.  SHE’s first initiative, SHE28, is addressing girls' and women's lack of access to affordable menstrual pads often leading to missed school and/or work. SHE is stemming these significant costs by developing a franchise model, coupled with health education and advocacy, to manufacture and distribute affordable, eco-friendly menstrual pads for girls and women by sourcing local, inexpensive raw materials (e.g., banana fibers).
SHE currently operates in Africa, but is in an exciting position and is looking for an individual or a team of all-star graduate students to conduct a market entry assessment into India. Our vision is to find a partner organization who will co-operate a SHE India franchise.

We are in search of business school students to conduct on-the-ground research for us starting January 2013-end of February 2013. Final analysis and recommendations will be presented to SHE’s leadership team by the end of February 2013. 

The Junior Business Wizard role is an unpaid, volunteer-based position, requiring at least 10-12 hours/week, however, SHE will cover travel and project-related costs incurred while conducting primary research in India.

Lastly, the Junior Business Wizard will be working directly with the SHE senior management team including the CEO. The team will also directly present their final research to the senior management. The skills and networking gained by our past business fellows have well-prepared them for the next stage in their professional career.

Don’t miss out on an exciting opportunity to increase SHE’s impact and develop an insider’s experience into the social enterprise industry

Desired skills/experience:
We are seeking to build a team of 3-4 MBA or Master’s level students or professionals with a background in operations management, supply chain operations, marketing, international development, and management consulting.

To apply, please submit your resume and a cover letter explaining why you are interested in the mission, values, and activities of SHE to by December 28, 2012. In the e-mail subject line please write “Junior Business Wizard India.”

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: 

####### For interviews and press information:

Connie Lewin,, 954-439-6702

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