SHE Stories: Discreet Design

Aimee Sealfon Kassana is a Design Director living in Kigali, Rwanda. She started working closely together with the SHE team and Johnson & Johnson two years ago as both a designer and a design strategist. The SHE Team and Johnson & Johnson design partnership created sustainable design concepts together with key stakeholders, in order to develop more sustainable go! packaging and readily accessible health education. During the decade that she worked for Johnson & Johnson, Aimee says that designing for SHE is the project she is most passionate about and invested in.

1. How did you start designing such culturally sensitive and work? How did you test your designs to make sure they communicated the right messages?

All designers need to be culturally sensitive in order to create materials that are successful. I began working with Johnson & Johnson more than a decade ago as the design director for the Women’s Health franchise. I managed the design and creative direction of the consumer packaging for all of their global women’s health care brands and feminine hygiene brands. Some products play an intimate role in women’s lives, and understanding the appropriate cultural sensitivities and how they differed from region to region — and even country to country — was incredibly important to understand from a consumer insights perspective.

As a designer, I have to gather insights on cultural norms, customs, practices, taboos; how and where she shopped; how she lived, trying to better understand her desires and dreams; mapping her journey and how she interacted with these products throughout her life. These insights were then embedded into the design concepts that were developed, in order to create products that added delight, meaning, or in some ways, improved or positively impacted her life.

To test them, we would create prototypes and share them directly with our target audiences in both qualitative and quantitative groups to gather critical feedback and / or co-create together.

2. What did you learn from this work and how did those lessons affect the final product?

Women around the world ultimately have very similar feelings and frustrations around their intimate health needs. Women are women. Regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status, women struggle with issues of self-confidence and wish they knew more about what was happening to them. Being aware of this has allowed me to create consumer experiences that are more approachable and delightful, more meaningful and authentic.

3. Why does design matter on this project? How does it lead to social impact?

People are inherently visual beings, so I would like to think that good design is important for all projects. However, in this specific case with the development of more sustainable packaging for SHE, we needed to figure out how to create more sustainable packaging that also fit within the consumers’ lives in a seamless manner.

It is really hard to change existing behaviors — for example, trying to get the girls to dispose of their used pads and wrappers in a manner other than throwing them down the latrine would be challenging. Recognizing this need led to the development of PET coated paper for the pad wrappers, which will biodegrade.

4. Tell us about the educational pamphlet you’ve been making for SHE.

As we gathered insights from the girls and women, to gain more perspective around how to create more sustainable packaging, we also learned that the girls had SO MANY questions that were not fully answered from what was taught in a classroom setting. They were intimate questions that they did not feel comfortable asking their teachers or their aunts or older sisters. Thus, the idea to create a pocket-sized, educational pamphlet that could be updated in different versions, was born, as it allowed the girls easy access to all of their most pertinent sexual and reproductive health queries, in a format that was discreet (easy to hide from nosy boy classmates and brothers) but that was also easily shareable with their friends and younger sisters.

How to Build a Production Process That Sticks

Building a sustainable social business comes with many challenges, but the quality of the product itself is one factor that can make or break success. How do we keep producing a high-quality product, and how do we ensure this production can be sustained in the future?

We’ve enlisted Leah Putman, an engineer who brings years of experience working in both American industries and low-resource environments to join our Rwanda team in tackling these challenges.

 

Quality is Key

In order to have a business that lasts, Leah knows we have to be “producing a stable and reliable product that girls can count on.”  To keep accomplishing this, Leah has begun to work on improving the consistency in our banana fiber supply chain. This can be difficult since rainy season in Rwanda can cause unpredictable downpours that extend fiber drying time by days. Our team will build a storage facility to dry the material at the supplier, which will reduce the amount of time spent on drying and washing of fiber.  In the meantime, 2017 is already on track to be our most productive year yet.

 

Eyes on replication

SHE is solving a global problem, and we never take our eyes off the big picture, which is the replication of SHE28’s model. With every minor and major step we take in production, we always keep replication and scale in consideration.

On a large scale, we recently implemented some new machinery (pictured above), which our staff affectionately refers to as “The Turbo King Machine.” This technology boosted our production capacity- we’ve made nearly 60,000 pads already this year! In order to recreate this technology, our staff will have an important challenge.

The SHE production team will recreate this technology with parts that are easy to find, replace, and repair locally within Rwanda. If we are able to rely on locally sourced parts, we ensure sustainability and prevent many of the common failures that traditional development projects often face.

But even on a smaller scale, Leah noticed that the adhesive that holds the pads together before they are sealed is currently imported, but could be made locally. She is experimenting with different formulas that would be “easy to use, stick well, cost-effective, and easy to make anywhere.”  Even in her free time, Leah is tinkering with different formulas at her kitchen table.

These incremental improvements will produce big returns. Local sourcing increases our impact on the local economy and lowers our unit costs so that we can reach as many women and girls as possible.

3 Things You Can Do To #beboldforchange This International Women’s Day

This Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is Be Bold For Change. Even though we have seen real progress in the previous decades, it is estimated that we will not reach global gender parity for another 170 years at the rate we have been moving. Boldness is necessary to create change. Here are some actions you can take today to pick up the pace:

 

  1. Support women in the workplace. 170 years is too long! What policies could be put into place in your workplace to support female leadership? Reports that female engineers face serious challenges at work, even in places like progressive California, show us that we have to take action to change these policies. At SHE, female employees are in the majority and are encouraged to do jobs that break gender stereotypes. What can you do to bring a little boldness to your workplace?
  2. Invest in causes that lift women up. We have expanded access to menstrual pads that enable women to do their jobs and attend school without worry to over 13,000 women and girls, and we couldn’t have done it without the investment of hundreds of generous investors who share our vision. Invest in SHE today to accelerate the pace of positive change.
  3. Contribute your skills to the causes you care about. Make the most of whatever it is you excel at. Whether you have expertise in engineering or are a social butterfly who is great at getting their friends together for a fundraiser, think about where your skills could be used to fill a gap. An added side bonus is that using your skills to create positive change will make you feel great too!

 

P.S. We have a bonus action you can take, and it’s a quick one. Support PIMCO’s WomenForward partners on Thunderclap, which will post a one-time message in support of WomenForward to your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr page on March 8th at noon.

It’s Easy Being Green – SHE selected as Katerva Category Winner!

Good news, SHE fans! SHE was honored by Katerva, dubbed by Reuters as “The Nobel Prize for Sustainability,” with its 2017 award for gender equality. Katerva chose SHE out of 500 applicants because of our positive social and environmental change, along with our high potential to scale.

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It’s no secret that mainstream menstrual hygiene products are no friend to the environment. The average American woman produces 62,415 pounds of non-biodegradable menstruation related waste in her lifetime. We create go! pads in a way that reduces the environmental harm of traditional pads, using a process that transforms agro waste (e.g. banana fibers) into an absorbent core without using any chemicals or super absorbent polymers.

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Thanks to our partnership with Johnson and Johnson, we now have new technology that has completely eliminated water from our production process and reduced our electricity use by 400%. We take these steps not only to protect the environment, but also because using few resources will enable us to scale in developing economies around the globe. With your support, we’ve been successful in reaching more people with fewer resources, an important goal for businesses in the 21st century.

Global Goals and Presidential Selfies

This September, our Chief Instigator Elizabeth Scharpf took on the United Nations General Assembly, speaking at a high-level panel for Every Woman Every Child at the UN Headquarters in New York. 2016 marks the adoption of new global development goals and strategies which bring into focus one of SHE’s greatest strengths- Sustainability.

SHE’s innovative work in scaling the production of sustainable sanitary pads was showcased amongst the ranks of technology powerhouses such as Huawei, GE Foundation, Philips, and Orange. Every Woman Every Child brings together partners from different sectors and encourages collaboration in achieving a common goal – improving the wellbeing of women and children across the world.

Founder and CEO Elizabeth Scharpf at 2016 UNGA Week Luncheon.Every Woman Every Child’s efforts to enhance collaboration between public and private sectors will increase the efficiency in achieving social impact, but we also have them to thank for this excellent selfie of Elizabeth and the President of Ghana. SHE is committed to serving 250,000 girls by 2017, in line with our plans for expansion of the SHE28 campaign within Rwanda and globally.

Join our commitment and invest in our market-based solution to improving the well-being of women and girls.

SHE makes ink on CNBC and Global Citizen

“We believe that SHE’s approach has significant potential for scalability and thus could be an important step towards making women’s healthcare more accessible in these regions.” – says Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer, Johnson and Johnson

CNBC and Global Citizen featured our expanded production and growing social enterprise across East Africa, thanks to a technical partnership with Johnson and Johnson.

Everything we do — whether it’s training farmers to supply us banana fiber or providing girls access to our go! pads — is thanks to our amazing network of champions like you.

Together, we’ve already made and distributed almost 200,000 pads to 10,000 girls throughout Rwanda and have created new income opportunities for 630 enterprising people.

And we’re just getting started. Read on.

SHE on CNBC: Why this Harvard grad has spent a decade making maxi pads out of banana fiber 

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SHE on Global Citizen: How Banana Fibers in Rwanda Are Helping Girls With Their Periods

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Are you our next Biz Dev Ninja? Apply today.

Are you ready to join a talented diverse team who makes the seemingly impossible possible? One that leaves you tired by the end of the day, but up the next eager to make change again? We are in, and are looking for our next team member in NYC as our Business Development Associate aka our Quick-Witted Ninja.

We’re seeking to bring on this team member by early October so don’t delay!

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Title: SHE Business Development Associate (aka our Quick-Witted Ninja)

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), an innovative social enterprise group, is hiring for a Business Development Associate to be based in our NYC office. What started with a blender in testing different raw materials like banana fiber, is now a burgeoning social business, increasing the health, wealth, education, and dignity across the value chain in East Africa.  We’ve been recognized by Harvard Business School, Echoing Green and President Bill Clinton, and you can learn more about us online – check out our video that brings to life our work: youtube.com/watch?v=EKmt7PwYPCY

Tenacity is what this organization was built on, and we’re looking for a confident, organized, and resilient person who wants to join a fast-paced, professional work environment. As the Business Development Associate, you will work with the Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships to diversify funding sources, and develop and implement an effective fund development strategy.

This position requires a real go-getter willing to roll up your sleeves. You thrill in checking off tasks off the to-do list and helps keep the team on track by staying five steps ahead of deadlines and funding opportunities. You are incredibly curious and demonstrate a propensity to learn more and improve your skills. Finally, you must have a great sense of humor – and be ready and willing to talk about taboo health issues!

If you are ready to join our small team and work with us to find innovation and new market solutions in the unlikeliest of places, then we want to meet you. See details below on how to apply today.

Your Impact

Funder Communications (50%)

  • Produce high-­quality short, medium and long­form copy for fundraising campaigns.
  • Identify and pursue opportunities to showcase SHE’s work and impact. This includes collaborating with the SHE Rwanda team to develop content for quarterly newsletters and fundraising campaigns; identifying opportunities to advance SHE’s thought leadership in the media or at conferences; preparing written materials as needed for multiple funder audiences including but not limited to, pitch decks, blog posts, press releases, social media assets, and email announcements .
  • Identify opportunities for improvement and innovation; provide direct feedback and recommendations.

Funder Outreach and Relationship Management (50%)

  • Perform and manage all the back-end work for our business development including grant and prospect research, data entry and tracking of deadlines in Salesforce and other CRM tools, and follow-ups.
  • Assist with prioritizing development leads with Director & CEO
  • Develop and improve existing development team systems and processes.
  • Draft grant proposals and reporting requirements
  • Identify new funding opportunities, execute due diligence and present opportunities to Director
  • Get to know and build relationships with SHE’s global network of funders and partners.

Who You Are

Minimum Qualifications

  • You have at least 2 years’ of cross-cultural work experience, preferably in the communications, international development or social enterprise field.
  • You have outstanding communication skills, including proven experience in making a complex subject matter accessible to a broader audience.
  • You are comfortable tackling problems head-on and adapting to shifting priorities, working individually and within a team, and managing multiple projects simultaneously.
  • You are comfortable presenting new ideas and explaining your decisions.
  • You have a high degree of proficiency with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Strong commitment to SHE’s mission, and an enthusiasm for building new development capacity initiatives to sustain SHE’s growth.
  • You approach obstacles with a sense of humor.
  • You have passions outside of work and contribute to your community.

Desired, but not required

  • At least 2 years of experience in fundraising, marketing, sales, or business development.
  • You have experience with Google Adwords and Google Analytics, and are constantly thinking of ways to measure the ROI of anything you do.
  • You have experience with Salesforce or another CRM tool.
  • You have experience with website technology (WordPress experience is a plus), social tools, and email marketing tools and resources.

Why You Should Join Us 

Sustainable Health Enterprises, or SHE, is an innovative, international and growing social venture. Our first initiative, SHE28, is a campaign that is addressing women and girls’ lack of access to affordable menstrual pads. SHE has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, and PBS Newshour.

As a member of the SHE Team, you will be sharing an office with the Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, and be part of a larger co-working space and community that offers free food, free coffee, and plenty of cubby holes to go into when you need some quiet time. Skype will become your best friend as you work with our Rwandan colleagues on new ways to tell stories of impact and business wins to our SHE community of investors, volunteers, and champions.

Pop Quiz Time

Tell us one fundraising campaign you’ve been most impressed with and why. Why, and what are they doing differently? Let us know in your top pick in the body of your email.

How to Apply

For consideration, applicants must include:

  • a resume
  • and a writing sample that shows off your ability to simplify a complex subject matter
  • your pop quiz response.

To apply, please email hresources@sheinnovates.com and include your resume and a writing sample as attachments. The subject line should read: “Application: SHE Business Development Associate.”

The body of the email must include:

  • Your earliest start date
  • Your pop quiz response – feel free to include links to videos or articles to support your case.
  • 1-2 paragraphs summarizing your relevant experience, your interest in the position and how this position would contribute to your short or long-term career goals.

Short-listed candidates will be contacted by the SHE team. Unfortunately, SHE may not have the capacity to answer candidates’ questions until they are short-listed and contacted.

No phone calls or in-person applications, please.

Start Date: October 2016

Salary:  $45,000-$55,000 including health benefits

Join SHE Rwanda as its Managing Director

Company Background

SHE is an award-winning social enterprise, with our first business operating in Rwanda. Our goal for SHE Rwanda is to increase access (for at least 250,000 girls) to affordable sanitary pads. We’re doing that by using an innovative manufacturing process that sources banana fiber from local banana co-operatives. We then use that banana fiber to make and produce affordable disposable sanitary pads (they are at least 30% more affordable than comparable imported brands). Our pads, branded as go!, are sold to schools and NGOs, and also directly to underserved consumers across Rwanda, primarily in the Eastern Province.

In Rwanda, SHE is rapidly scaling, and our revenue is incrementally growing as we meet customer demand for affordable sanitary pads. In Rwanda, SHE is a social business with a social mission of local sourcing of banana fiber, job creation, affordable products, and access to essential menstrual health education at the school level.

Our social venture has been recognized by New Times Rwanda. We are proud to have received global recognition for our work from Echoing Green, The Tech Museum, Curry Stone Design Prize, among others. Learn more about our work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4365hpsxVIw

Job Background

We are in an exciting time of growth given our new partnership with Johnson & Johnson, a multi-national conglomerate, and are looking to hire a Managing Director to lead our Rwanda-based entity to profitability and scale.

The Managing Director role in Rwanda is integral to shaping the direction of SHE Rwanda’s approach and vision. It is imperative that the Managing Director can continue to build upon our track record and trust within the Rwandan business community.

We are seeking an original, resilient, self–starter who sees opportunities (not challenges), and inspires and manages a team to scale our short, but proven track record.  Our Managing Director should bring fresh ideas to the table that can challenge our assumptions and principles.

Reporting and Relationships

The Managing Director, Rwanda will report to the Founder and CEO of SHE Global based in the U.S. and will work at the time with the Global team in New York City. S/he will oversee the staff in Rwanda.

Location and Time Requirements

The Managing Director, Rwanda will be based at the SHE Rwanda office located in Kigali. There will be significant in-country travel, including into rural areas.

Responsibilities

Overall, we are seeking someone who can lead our Rwanda-based entity to profitability and scale.  In doing so, she/he will manage all staff, administration, and operations of SHE in Rwanda and take ownership of all country-specific projects and deliverables. The following things will be important in doing that:

  • Revenue Generation & Cost Containment
    • Lead the conversion of significant new customers
    • Work with the business development team to identify and cultivate new customers and retain existing customers
    • Deliver on cost reduction and increased efficiencies through continuous operational improvements and supply chain management as we scale.
  • Financial Oversight (in partnership with Business Operations Manager)
    • Work with Business Operations Manager to oversee country-level budgeting and audit
    • Work with Business Operations Manager to assure that accounts are up to date and that taxes are paid on time
  • Operations
    • Develop evidence-driven implementation plans and execute those plans for production, sales, distribution, and supply chain management;
    • Lead implementation plan roll-out while working with a diverse set of actors including Rwandan stakeholders, U.S. team members, international funders and partners;
  • Strategic Planning and Execution
    • Guide the scaling of SHE Rwanda from a fiscal perspective;
  • Test and evaluate all aspects of business model to ensure quality, sustainability and replicability by measuring success criteria against SHE’s business model and its assumptions; Human Resources
    • Build a culture of high performance for SHE Rwanda;
    • Recruit and provide line management, mentorship, and support to team;
    • Ensure that SHE Rwanda is compliant with labor laws.
  • External Engagement
    • Represent SHE Rwanda to senior government officials and other major partners
    • Develop strong district and national government relationships;
    • Represent SHE Rwanda when liaising with SHE’s funders and investors
  • General Administration
    • Manage change and support others to do so – support the team to deal with ambiguity.
    • Take ownership of all country-specific projects and deliverables.
  • Lead with integrity. The Managing Director would be an inspirational figure for the staff and international community to look to as highly-skilled, passionate, and ethical.

Qualifications

We are looking for outstanding candidates who fit the following criteria:

  • 7-10 years work experience, ideally in business development or sales;
  • Experience in managing a profit and loss statement to drive and inform strategy;
  • Strategic thinker and planner who has built and managed teams that successfully execute on plans for impact and scale;
  • Demonstrated ability to work with funders and investors;
  • Experience of working in the East African, preferably Rwanda-specific, context
  • Building and maintaining truly collaborative and learning-driven relationships with Government – at all level of seniority; as well as the ability to maintain strong partnerships with stakeholders as diverse as global funders; NGO leaders; individual investors, and academics.
  • Experience mentoring and managing people and helping them to develop as leaders.
  • Ability to effectively collaborate with and across a global team, proven capacity to work across cultural lines; and the ability to operate independently in complex situations.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel & Google Apps.

Characteristics Required:

  • A strong listener: You have exceptional relationship and interpersonal skills, and demonstrate patience, tact, and authenticity.
  • Detail oriented: You have a strong implementation focus.
  • Motivator: The ability to act with positivity and optimism such that you can motivate others during challenging times.
  • Language: English required. + Kinyarwanda preferred.

Please note:

  • References will be taken up before a final offer of employment is made.

Recruitment Process:

Provisional dates for the process are as follows:

  • Long-listing will take place in July 2017 and those candidates selected will be informed and invited for a preliminary interview. Preliminary interviews will take the form of face-to-face or Skype interviews with SHE Global team.
  • The second phase of interview will be a Skype interview with the Founder and CEO of SHE. Short-listing will take place before the end of August 2017 and candidates selected for interviews with the Founder and CEO will be informed.
  • The third and final phase of the interview process with our top candidates will be an in-person interview with our SHE Rwanda team in Kigali. It will consist of a panel interview with 5 people. It is anticipated that interviews with the SHE Rwanda staff will take place during the last 2 weeks of August 2017.

Job Location:  Kigali, Rwanda

Duration:  Minimum 2+ years commitment, full-time job

Preferred Start Date:  September/October 2017

Compensation:  A competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with experience including health insurance and bonus opportunity.

How to Apply: Only electronic applications will be accepted. To apply you should submit a copy of your CV, alongside a thoughtful cover letter, indicating why you are the right fit for SHE Rwanda and this Managing Director position to hresources@sheinnovates.com

If you have questions:

If, after reading this material, you have further questions about any aspect of this search, you can contact:

Connie Lewin

Director of Strategy, SHE Global

hresources@sheinnovates.com