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

We are in an exciting growth phase at SHE and will be hiring a Managing Director to lead our Rwanda-based entity to profitability and scale. 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. We are seeking someone who can do the following things:

Qualifications

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

  • Seasoned trailblazer with (5-10 years) experience expanding a sustainable commercial sales organization and one who has driven growth to scale (ideally by at least three-fold in a developing economy);
  • Growth oriented, cost conscious leader with demonstrated ability to reduce product/unit costs by 50% (ideally in a manufacturing business);
  • Business savvy financial manager with extensive experience in managing a P&L and in financial modeling 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;
  • Exceptional relationship and interpersonal skills: a strong listener who demonstrates patience, tact and authenticity;
  • 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;
  • Can-do positive attitude (we did figure out how to make sanitary pads out of banana trees—not easy!); and
  • Language: English required. + French and/or Kinyarwanda preferred.

DUTIES:

  • Guide the scaling of SHE Rwanda from a fiscal perspective;
  • Develop evidence-driven implementation plans and execute those plans for production, sales, distribution, and supply chain management;
  • Evaluate the in-country leadership capabilities to meet the needs of the accelerated timeline to scale;
  • 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;
  • Lead implementation plan roll-out while working with a diverse set of actors;
  • Hire and develop staff in Rwanda;
  • Advocate for funds, approximately $500,000 annually, for SHE externally in Rwanda and globally;
  • 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.

Job Location:  Kigali, Rwanda

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

Preferred Start Date:  Immediate Opening

Compensation:  Competitive with performance-driven bonuses and raises

To Apply:

Please send cover letter and CV to hresources@sheinnovates.com as soon as possible.  This will be a rolling process and CVs will be reviewed immediately upon receipt and accepted until the position is filled. Let us know why you would be the best person for the job today!

Girl Talk

Below, girls share their experience with SHE28 and the impact it is having in Rwanda. How can you break the silence? By investing and sharing the experience of Justine, Jessica, and Jackie, you can activate girls and women to continue challenging the status quo.

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