Being a Part of a Global Community

Post by Sylvere Mwizerwa, Business Development Officer, SHE Rwanda

I would like to first express my words of thanks to Barry and Dolly Segal and their family for their support of SHE and sub-Saharan Africa initiatives.

The Segal Family Foundation’s annual conference was wonderful and unique. I learned the best and polite ways to ask professional questions in front of a crowd of people with different backgrounds.  The conference helped me to grow as a person!

I met many like-minded people that do similar work that we do.  Michael Wilkerson, the CEO of Tugende, a moto transportation company in Uganda, shared helpful advice on how to approach governments when it comes to reducing taxes and forming public-private partnerships.

For example, Dr. Laura Stachel from We Care Solar, a social enterprise that distribute solar boxes to countries in Africa and Asia, personally taught me how she was able to form successful partnerships with government institutions. We Care Solar has partnerships with Ministries of Health and Ministries of Education which has helped them to distribute their products to hospitals and clinics at a lower price. Her model is amazing and is very similar to ours.

As the Business Development Officer, I am focused on reducing our supply chain and production costs. It was great to therefore meet Robina Sarah Naluwooza from Set Her Free from Uganda who recommended to potential new suppliers. This will help SHE Rwanda to drive down our costs during our operations.

The speeches, plenary sessions and lunch table discussions were really good opportunities to share our thoughts and discuss in large the challenges that we are facing and the way to solve these. I have formed a strong network among all types of social entrepreneurs.

SHE selected for the 2014’s Sustainia 100 list

Scandinavian think tank SUSTAINIA featured our banana-fiber menstrual pads in its Sustainia 100 list – a study featuring the 100 leading sustainability innovations deployed on global markets. And our pad has been selected for its state-of-the-art innovation.

More than 900 technologies and projects on nearly all continents have been researched to identify the 100 outstanding cases, and to document where and how innovations are being developed and deployed. The study, SUSTAINIA100, is showing a growing diversity in sustainability innovations globally, which is providing businesses with new market opportunities.

The SUSTAINIA100 solutions are selected based on the three dimensions of sustainability; environmental, social, and economic. SUSTAINIA has adopted a systematic approach to collecting solutions in concert with a global sustainability network. This approach runs year round with a final deadline for solutions in March.

The full Sustainia100 publication with 100 selection cases available here

#MenstruationMatters sign with Nadia and teen girls

Celebrate the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day!

What are you doing on May 28th?

You can join us in celebrating the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day. On this day, organizations from across the globe will be busting taboos associated with menstruation and menstrual hygiene so girls and women will no longer have to lose out on days of school and work, improve their health and well-being, and most importantly, reclaim their dignity.

You can join into the festivities too! You can join Nadia and Eloise (featured above) and  create your own #MenstruationMatters sign. Just print it out and take a picture of yourself with your reason why #MenstruationsMatters to you! Put it online (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and let’s get #MenstruationMatters & #MenstrualHygiene trending on Twitter on MH Day! 

Share the Menstrual Hygiene infographic on your favorite social media platform and use these fact sheets as great conversation starters to get people talking about Menstrual Hygiene.

Menstrual Hygiene Day Infographic courtesy of WASH United

Image courtesy of WASH United. Download here:




Introducing go!


By Connie Lewin, Strategic Partnerships and Marketing Director

Our branding process all started when I stood outside in front of 200+ girls and boys on the campus of a rural Rwandan school and we began discussing menstruation. I expected to only meet with 8-10 girls when I arrived at the school, but soon learned that it’s very common to receive a warm welcome from the entire school when you’re a new visitor.

After an awkward start when my colleague and I began introducing ourselves and what we do at SHE, the mood quickly shifted when one (brave) girl asked a question, “Can I play soccer when I am menstruating?” I’m sure a surprised look came across my face because she asked me the question again. I replied back “Of course, you can!” A sense of relief took over her body. Suddenly, more and more girls asked questions related to what they stopped doing when they had their period – laughing, dancing, riding a bike, doing chores, and going to school.

I soon began to realize that girls were missing out on more than having access to a pad; to those who even used menstrual products, they felt like they couldn’t move or do anything because if you’re “sick,” you should just stay at home.

Informed with this first-hand knowledge, the team and I began the branding process of our banana-fiber maxi-pad with these questions in mind:

 “How can we build a brand that will change the way girls think about menstruation?”

“How do we use our brand to work toward our larger goals of driving social and economic change?”

“How do we make sure our brand is used as a strategic asset, so girls can directly benefit?”

It took hundreds of conversations with girls, brainstorms and ideations within the team, and an on-street survey to develop a brand identity that we hope will change the way Rwandans think about menstruation.

go! is global. We decided to have it bi-lingual to show that will our brand is locally made, it has global aspirations to connect and serve girls in many communities. (P.S. Nshyashya means brand new)

gois bold.We’re rocking bold colors selected by the girls themselves; go! is for girls, by girls.

go! will be delivered to girls this year, and we can’t wait to see their reactions and learn more about their go! experiencesWe will be sharing more photos and testimonials about go! throughout the year, so stay tuned.

What do you think? Who do you feel we are? Let us know in the comments.

HAHA Beat: SHE featured as a case study in recent UNESCO report

Guest Post from Global Health Intern Sereena Singh

Working with SHE as a Global Health Intern, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a remarkable and groundbreaking event that announced the publication of “Puberty Education and Menstrual Hygiene Management: Booklet 9”, a key document published by UNESCO in partnership with Proctor and Gamble. This is particularly exciting since SHE was included as a case study for our dual-pronged business approach and advocacy work to addressing menstrual hygiene at the school level.

The event included a first-hand account about the impact of the menstrual hygiene management crisis from a young woman from India. Ameira works for the YP Foundation in New Delhi, India, and did not learn about proper menstrual hygiene until she was 18 years old and attended a health workshop. She is now working with young girls and women in India on educating them about menstrual hygiene. UNESCO Director, Irina Bokova, stated that puberty should be a turning point and not a barrier for these girls. Menstrual hygiene management deserves the upmost attention to help keep girls in school, and feel confident about themselves.

I have been interning with SHE for almost 8 months now, and I’m proud to say that the work we have been doing and continue to do so has helped many women in Rwanda to become game-changers of menstrual hygiene management. This is a major feat in the ongoing battle that many other young women in developing countries face. With already precarious health and educational infrastructures in these countries, shining light on this issue and pulling these women out of ignominy is what will endow them with the confidence to overcome the fears and shames of menstruation. It is with highest hopes that this booklet serves as a reminder of how far we have come and how much further we need to go. While this publication represents a shining beacon of progression, we must continue to break the silence, foster confidence, and empower these amazing young women around the world.

As Joyce McFadden stated, “If a girl cannot feel at home in her own body, she cannot feel at home anywhere.” No young girl or woman should ever feel ashamed of herself because of her body, PERIOD.

There’s a New SHE in Town!

Today, we are launching our updated brand on our redesigned website! This new brand identity is more than a design makeover; it reflects who we are today, and where we’re going. 

Six years after launching SHE, we’ve learned is that it takes tenacity to disrupt the status quo and create change.

Debunking stereotypes

Reclaiming local resources

Investing in new ideas and people

Launching entrepreneurs to improve lives

Our four words, along with our mission statement, are a living and accurate reflection of who we are and how we work today.

2014 will be a major year for SHE as we move forward with our industrial-scale pilot to produce pads for 3,000 schoolgirls attending our ten partners schools and youth centers in the Kayonza district of Rwanda. As SHE continues to evolve, we will look to our brand to stay true to our approach.

Finally, we’ve changed our identity to mark this new chapter. We worked with Blok Design to create a brand identity that needed to capture the heart and soul of a brand that strengthens women and girls to stand tall and proud. Therefore the wordmark “stands tall,” emphasized by the bold underscore and color palette.

Our photos were also taken by two superb photographers and friends of SHE:

  • Finnish photographer Perttu Saralampi, whose photos are featured in the carousel on our homepage as well as throughout the site. Check out more of his work here:
  • New Zealander Tash McCarroll who spent a lot of time with our staff at our Ngoma production site to capture our progress. View more of her work here:

Please explore our redesigned website, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Ain’t no stopping us now – SHE’s on the move!

Elizabeth and the SHE Team