Guest Post by Executive Director Melissa Driver Beard
Earlier this year, SHE was recognized as a winner of BiD Network’s 6th Annual Women in Business Challenge. The Women in Business challenge is a business plan competition that seeks to address the problem of underinvestment in female owned businesses in emerging markets, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa. BiD’s goal is to connect coached and investors with entrepreneurs. I was honored to represent SHE in Amsterdam at a three day program tailored specifically to match us with interested impact investors. I also represented SHE at “Bridge the Gap II: Women, Money, and Markets”, an event organized by Vive Invest (check out the video above to learn more).
Investors expressed strong interest in our value chain – job creation, income generation, and education – as aspects of local sanitary pad sourcing and production. I will continue to build these relationship on behalf of SHE as we grow and scale in Rwanda. We anticipate production and sales increases from 1,000 pads/ day to 10,000 pads/day by the end of the year.
I’m thankful to those who provided invaluable insights into helping us formulate a winning business plan as well as pitch materials for potential investors. I’m also gratified to have met with so many investors, individuals, and organizational representatives who believe in SHE’s mission to invest in people and ideas who are overlooked (and often taboo) as vehicles of social and economic change.
I had little time on my own to enjoy Amsterdam, but was lucky enough to enjoy an afternoon of cold sunshine, Dutch pancakes, a canal ride, and a few moments to think about SHE’s path forward in Rwanda and beyond.