Why I Volunteer for SHE: Meet Michael Moscherosch

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My background is in chemistry and I’ve been with J&J for 22 years. I worked for many years in in product development for feminine hygiene products. Now my focus is more on external innovation, sustainability and social innovation.

How did you find out about SHE?

We heard about SHE’s approach to make affordable napkins from banana fibers and we reached out to Elizabeth Scharpf and offered our help.

Dr. Michael Moscherosch at Umunezero banana co-op, RwandaWhat project have you been working on with SHE? How are you using your skills and talents to help advance SHE’s mission?

We began by improving the current process so that the products met the Rwandan Standards Board requirements. I then made a trip to Rwanda in September 2015, which helped us develop a new processes and equipment to increase production at the manufacturing site in Ngoma. I also participated in consumer research to refine the go! pad and its packaging to meet environmental standards. I also helped improve banana fiber quality.

What are some highlights of your volunteer work with SHE?

Having Dany visit us in NJ, visiting the manufacturing site in Ngoma, and visiting a banana cooperative and see how the fibers are produced.

What should people know about SHE?

One of SHE’s goals is to profitably manufacture menstrual pads in developing countries. The goal is to create a financially sustainable business model that is scalable and can be implemented in other banana growing regions in the developing world where women and girls have no access to safe and affordable sanitary napkins.

The Power of Three: Scaling SHE28 with our Partner, JNJ

Guest Post by Dany Karemera, Production Manager

Production Manager feeding the fiber into new Phase 1 machineryI just returned from a week in Skillman, New Jersey. It was my first time in the US – what a beautiful country! I was there for a training with Johnson and Johnson, who assists my organization (SHE) on the development of appropriate technology of manufacturing of sanitary pads out of banana fibers in Rwanda. During my 5 days in New Jersey, I worked with Michael Moscherosch and Ken Pelley, who are J&J engineers. They trained me on assembly, operation, maintenance and repair of the Phase 1 machine that will take banana fibers and convert them directly into fluff (absorbent material) as well as test method training.

Our technical collaboration with J&J has allowed us to develop a revamped manufacturing process with three phases of implementation:

Phase 1 is the new equipment which will streamline our pulping process. It takes banana fiber and converts it directly into fluff.

Phase 2 will convert the fluff into a tissue wrapped absorbent pad that then can be converted into menstrual pads.

Phase 3 will convert the menstrual pads into fully assembled pads.

We presented SHE’s patented innovation and technical collaboration work to senior leaders at Johnson and Johnson, including Michael Sneed, Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs.

Photo Mar 02, 2 21 00 PM

We presented our technical innovation and collaboration to senior leaders at J&J including Chief Scientific Officer Josh Ghaim and VP, Global Corporate Affairs Michael Sneed.

IMG_0467Every night after training, I was hanging out with different J&J people, having dinner together and getting questioned about life in Rwanda and how we make pads out of banana fibers. They were very happy to be with me and get different knowledge from my experience. I also experienced different foods in the US. They were very good but it was hard to eat noodles using chopsticks for my first time! Before I started my training in New Jersey, I had an amazing time with my teammates Connie and Melissa in New York and visited different places such as Top of the Rock where you see an amazing view of New York City, saw dinosaur skeletons which lived thousands years ago at the American Museum of Natural History, and visited beautiful places such as Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many more. It was very exciting! I am not scared of changes but to live between -3 degrees and -4 degrees Celsius (about 30 degrees Fahrenheit) was very hard for me. When I woke up and saw snow outside, I was very happy to see the snow for my first time and this was on my list of things to see in United States. I was very happy to see everything in white and Michael taught me how to throw snowballs (very funny). I have returned to Rwanda, and I am now at work with Michael and the J&J team to make our scale-up production process a reality.

Why I Volunteer for SHE: Toykea Jones

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Toykea Jones and I am currently a Senior Manager of Manufacturing Excellence for the North America region in consumer products. I’ve been with Johnson & Johnson for ten years and have worked in the capacity of facilities and maintenance engineering, manufacturing, supply chain planning, global strategy and deployment and program management office (PMO).

How did you find out about SHE?

I first found out about SHE after reading an article on J&J’s internal website written about the efforts from both Michael and Aimee.  With my supply chain background, I knew I could contribute to the effort.

What project did you work on with SHE? Whom did you work with? How did you use your skills and talents to help advance SHE’s mission?

Since volunteering, I’ve developed a model for inventory forecasting and am currently in the process of developing the monthly Sales and Operations Forecast (S&OP) monthly guidance.

What are some highlights of your volunteer work with SHE?

Being able to take my expertise and share my knowledge / best practices.  Who would have ever known I’d be able to contribute in this way?!!

What should people know about SHE?

This unique effort is making a significant impact on the lives of girls and women in Rwanda. It’s truly inspirational!

Why I Volunteer for SHE: Meet Aimee Sealfon

aimeeTell us a bit about yourself.

I am a graphic designer by training, and work within Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategic Design Office as consumer solutions director on their baby and feminine care franchises. I have been a designer with the GSDO for almost ten years, but before that worked as a packaging designer for CPG (consumer packaged goods) at Martha Stewart, as well as some smaller design firms throughout my career.

How did you find out about SHE?

I first heard about SHE when Elizabeth Scharpf was featured on NPR about six years ago.  The story resonated with me because I have a passionate interest in maternal and children’s health especially where it intersects with FemCare and EMs.

What project did you work on with SHE? Whom did you work with? How did you use your skills and talents to help advance SHE’s mission?

J&J’s GSDO is partnering with SHE to develop more sustainable (eliminating packaging where possible, taking into account the disposal and reusability of the secondary packaging), cost effective and delightful packaging that better meets the needs of the girls + women who are using the go! pads. The new packaging also includes the inclusion of reproductive health and MHM educational materials for the girls. I worked primarily with Flora and Jeanette to develop new packaging that we could test with the girls at different schools, as well to develop the educational content. However, I also worked with the entire core team during different points within the design thinking process.

What are some highlights of your volunteer work with SHE?

Working with the girls: co­-creating better packaging and product ideas together with them; seeing the banana cooperatives and understanding more about the manufacturing process of the go! Pads.

What should people know about SHE?

I really love the idea that women are helping women and the embracement and support of Rwandan pride throughout the entire process. SHE specifically chose banana coops that have women farmers and workers (not all do), the manufacturing plant employs almost primarily women; and at the core, it is really incredible that Rwandan women are helping young Rwandan girls to feel more empowered and confident; and to stay in school by having sanitary pads for when they have their period; the pads which are made with Rwandan banana fiber.

J&J and SHE Teams with J&J's Worldwide Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs Michael Sneed

Rethinking social change as “profitable good”

Guest post by Melissa Driver Beard, Executive Director 

Executive Director Melissa Driver Beard at Johnson and JohnsonAt the end of an exciting and productive week for SHE Rwanda’s Production Manager, Dany Karemera, I had the pleasure of joining Dany, Elizabeth, and members of the J&J team including Michael Moscherosch, Aimee Sealfon, John Poccia, and Ken Pelley  as we presented information about the progress of our partnership to Michael Sneed, Worldwide VP Global Corporate Affairs and Josh Ghiam, J&J Consumer’s Chief Scientific Officer.  Michael spoke most specifically to the market landscape and need for menstrual pads, while Aimee addressed changes that can be made to go! pad packaging that will be low-cost, eye-catching, and eco-friendly.

John, Ken, and Dany described the design and functionality of the equipment being built for SHE.  They were also able to demonstrate Phase I of the equipment that will significantly increase our ability to produce quality banana fluff for our go! pads, as well as increase our production rates.  This will enable us to meet one of our primary goals – providing access to affordable, disposable menstrual pads to 250,000 girls and women by the end of 2017.

Production Manager feeding the fiber into new Phase 1 machinery

Our Production Manager Dany Karemera feeds dry fiber into our new Phase 1 machinery.

As a group, we discussed the overall need for menstrual products in Rwanda and the role that J&J is playing in helping SHE address production related challenges.  We also previewed Phase II and III equipment which will further streamline production and increase throughput tenfold!  This equipment should be in place in our production facility in Ngoma, Rwanda by the end of 2016.

I’m thankful to be working with this dedicated team and gratified to know that SHE is making a difference in the lives of thousands of girls and women.

NYU Athletics #SHEro Event

Guest post by NYU soccer goalkeeper Sophie Frank

Pic 3

Sophie Frank (at left) with co-organizer & SHE Marketing Intern Arianna Lauren Strome

I am always empowered by seeing a group of people come together to engage in learning about how they can make a positive impact on the lives of others. The NYU #SHEro event was a prime example of students making sacrifices to partake in an important movement. NYU athletes came together to learn about SHE and the importance of female menstrual protection.Pic 1

Periods are not always comfortable ­­to talk about or experience­­ but we all came to understand from this event that affording proper protection for girls and women when they have their periods is fundamental to creating a more equitable world. I was shocked to learn that even in the United States women face a luxury tax on pads and the products are not included in SNAP benefits.

The message from SHE resonated deeply with NYU athletes. We were able to share a space together in which we practiced yoga and then developed a deeper awareness of the issue. By awaking our bodies, alongside our minds, we were able to more fully capture the necessity of changing the status quo when it comes to menstrual protection.

Pic 2

In the end we raised $2,350 for SHE! You can still support SHE and our #SHEro campaign today: https://www.classy.org/new-york/events/nyu-shero-event/e70749


Rwanda’s Minister of Education visits SHE in Ngoma

Guest Post by Dany Karemera, Production Manager

The Ministry of Education is very supportive of SHE’s innovation and production of affordable menstrual pads out of banana fibers and liked that SHE provides our go! pads to girls in schools in order to keep them performing.

Minister of Education Dr. Musafiri Papias Malimba recently visited our production site in Ngoma.

On his visit, the Minister of Education in Rwanda, Dr. Musafiri Papias Malimba, appreciated our initiative and our mission in Rwanda of keeping girls in school accompanied by supporting the Rwanda’s economy. Dr. Papias also appreciated the local production of our products and collaboration with the women farmers in rural areas.

He believes that this local collaboration will be among the best system of improving and changing girls and women’s lives. He wishes to increase knowledge of SHE’s efforts so that go! pads can be used in every Rwandan school and demonstrated that he is very supportive of our mission.


Going once, going twice? SHE is a winner of BiD Network Challenge


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.

Driving Innovative Solutions with Johnson and Johnson

As you may know from following our journey, we’ve been working with the External Alliances and Innovation team at Johnson and Johnson to increase our production capacity, drive down our production costs, and develop a highly replicable production model that can be replicated globally.

We’re excited to share with you some of the team members at Johnson and Johnson we are working with to help amplify our growth and impact this year!

Read more about Johnson and Johnson’s work first-hand from project leads Aimee Sealfon, Director of Consumer Solutions – Baby/FemCare, at our Global Strategic Design Office, and Michael Moscherosch, Director of R&D for External Innovation on J&J’s blog here.

Please also share our video about our unique collaboration with J&J.


Here’s to a New Year and a new adventure! Please reach out with feedback or questions at supportshe@sheinnovates.com.

Top 5 Photos of 2015

Last year SHE improved the lives of hundreds of girls, women and their families with our game-changing business model. As we look forward to changing more lives in 2016, we invite you to take a look back at our Top 5 Pictures of 2015. Thanks for being a part of the work we do.

1. Our Ngoma production team celebrates our win of the Global Sourcing Council’s 3S Awards, a prize that recognized our efforts to empowering women that are part of our supply chain.

SHE Rwanda celebrated the second annual Menstrual Hygiene Day with 2.5 million people tuning into our live Q&A and 703 boys and girls leading local celebrations for the global day in the Rukara district.

2. SHE Rwanda celebrated the second annual Menstrual Hygiene Day with 2.5 million people tuning into our live Q&A and 703 boys and girls leading local celebrations for the global day in the Rukara District.

3. Our farmers earned a 33% increase in their co-op income as our fiber suppliers.

3. Our farmers earned a 33% increase in their co-op income as our fiber suppliers.

4. Our go! pads were a hit at the Eastern Province Expo. Over 8,600 packs of go! pads have been sold directly to girls, schools, and wholesale customers such as the Peace Corps in 2015.

4. Our go! pads were a hit at the Eastern Province Expo. Over 8,600 packs of go! pads were sold directly to girls, schools, and wholesale customers such as the Peace Corps.

Our Kilimanjaro #climbforSHE team achieved its audacious goals to supply 6,000 girls with the go! pads they need by raising over $53,000.

5. Our Kilimanjaro #climbforSHE team achieved its audacious goals to supply 6,000 girls with the go! pads they need by raising over $53,000.