SHE Enterprises

Learn how a maxi-pad can keep women working, girls in school, and drive economic growth

Every 28 days, million of girls and women in developing countries miss school or work – up to 50 days per year – because they lack access to affordable maxi-pads. Their current options are with too expensive or ineffective:

  • Premium priced imported brands cost more than a day’s wages – a pack of imported pads cost $2.25 vs. $1 in Rwanda, SHE’s pilot country.
  • Sub-optimal alternatives such as cloth rags, tree bark, and even mud, fail to prevent leakage and put girls and women at risk for severe reproductive health consequences, mostly as a result of the lack of a clean and accessible water supply.

Sustainable Health Enterprises or SHE is a social venture that is on a mission to invest in people and ideas that are typically overlooked (and often taboo) as vehicles of social and economic change. The SHE28 campaign is its initiative to address this pressing and silent problem through innovative product design and sustainable economic opportunities for women and their communities. Take a look at its campaign video

(Embed SHE28 campaign video –

SHE has developed an patent-pending, low-cost, and eco-friendly menstrual pad, the SHE LaunchPad, that makes an absorbent core (the highest material cost driver) for pads from agro-waste (i.e, banana fibers) without using any chemicals or super absorbent polymers. The SHE28 campaign launched in Rwanda in 2009, and girls and women, will now have access to a menstrual product that will be priced at 5 cents/pad.

(Photo of SHE LaunchPad)

SHE is coupling its LaunchPad with a sustainable business model that will create economic opportunities all across the value chain – from the banana farmers who will sell their banana fiber to SHE to the women entrepreneurs that will be equipped with business skills training and education to sell the LaunchPads in their communities. For every women-led and operated business that SHE invests in, approximately 100 jobs are created and approximately 100,000 girls and women have access to affordable menstrual pads.

In addition to creating economic opportunities for marginalized women, SHE is dedicated to instigating change at a national and global level with its education and advocacy programs. SHE is currently in talks with Rwandan Ministry officials to ensure menstrual hygiene education is widely available across all government primary schools.

On the advocacy front, SHE has been successful in busting taboos about menstruation. The SHE team hit the streets of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in 2010 with its “Breaking the Silence on Menstruation” event. SHE, along with 10 other leading Rwandan organizations, marched down the streets in Kigali and held a public discussion with girls, women & men about how to break down menstrual taboos that serve as a barrier to girls’ education. As a result, the Rwandan government placed a new line item in the national budget for a $35,000 procurement of menstrual pads for the poorest girls.

(Advocacy march photo with link: )

SHE is not done with shaking up the status quo – SHE is moving from small-scale to industrial-scale production to manufacture and distribute 300,000 of its SHE LaunchPads to 3,000 Rwandan schoolgirls attending 10 schools in the Kayonza district of Rwanda.

Want to join the SHE28 campaign and help SHE revolutionize access to maxi-pads?

There are 4 great ways you can involved

  1. Give $28. Support SHE.
  2. Break the silence and go viral — share the SHE28 campaign video with everyone you know!
  3. Get the word out – tell your friends to support SHE on Twitter – donate your voice (link to Thunderclap)
  4. Follow SHE on its website and blog or find them on Twitter and Facebook.

SHElogo SHE business development team with Kamara committee SHE  Rwandan COO Julian Kayibanda at Menstrual Pad Tax Repeal Advocacy March protype pad Angelique Karidi, a farmer, extracts banana fiber from the trunk of a banana tree.

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