We’ve made 520,698 go! pads to date and we’re not stopping there!
To keep the momentum going, we traveled to Zimbabwe in May to explore how we could turn what’s typically seen as plant waste into go! pads. We hosted a banana fiber extraction training led by our very own engineer and Technical Director, Leah!
To kick off day one, we met with twenty-nine eager women farmers at the beautiful training site at the Magadzire Centre. The farmers made sure to wear goggles to prepare for the messy extraction process ahead. We realized that unlike banana plants in Rwanda, Zimbabwean banana plants are full of water. This means that these varieties can be left out for up to two weeks before extraction. Immediately after extracting the fibers from the banana stems, they were placed in water to prevent discoloration. We then hung them out on a line and later stored them in dry place called a hozi, the word for storage room in the Shona language.
On the second day, our group of farmers grew by ten. They even brought with them five different banana plant varieties that we successful extracted fibers from.
Stay tuned to find out if these new fibers will be suitable for go! pads!
There is still work to be done to make SHE28 possible in Zimbabwe. Repairing the road to the training site and building a centrally located banana fiber collection depot are top priorities. Our training could not have been possible without our partners in Zimbabwe. Siyabonga! Maita Basa! (Thank you!)
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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Scharpf reporting live from Rwanda….You make maxi pads out of banana trees? Yeah right. Check out our investment in the overlooked, the taboo, the small things, that have a huge multiplier effect! The whole SHE-bang is here!
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
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)
– go! is 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! experiences. We 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.