As you probably know, SHE is shaking up the pad industry in Rwanda by making menstrual pads in part from banana fiber. BUT the Philippines have also found innovative ways to use our fiber cousin, the ABACA plant. SHE’s technical guru, Leah, headed there for two weeks to see exactly what the Philippines were up to and here is what she found!
Why is the Philippines the #1 exporter of abaca fiber?
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why people even farm abaca fiber… well it turns out that abaca fiber has a long history of being used to make paper and rope due to its fiber strength!
Why is SHE interested in ABACA fiber??
We love our banana fiber menstrual pads and we are always looking for ways to improve our process. So, Leah (SHE’s technical director and in house engineer) visited the Philippines to learn more about the fiber extraction and supply processes from our fiber cousins (the abaca plant). Over her stay, Leah visited a host of different sites specializing in fiber production, quality standards, and extraction.
In short, our tech guru will use this information to hopefully enhance and expand our ability to process banana fiber in Rwanda so that more women and girls can have access to affordable menstrual pads!
SO what did SHE find?
Despite being fiber cousins, the process used is slightly different (due to the abaca plants’ fiber strength). In the Philippines, a specialized machine is used to process this fiber; though this exact process is not suitable for banana fiber, Leah is interested in using a similar technique with banana fibers!
HOW THIS HELPS SHE:
In terms of $$$, both plants average a similar extraction cost, but Leah still learned different ways to potentially reduce our cost back in Rwanda. The farmers in the Philippines worked with smaller portions of the plant stem which can create an easier and more cost-effective supply chain. SHE is investigating this strategy in Rwanda!
From learning first-hand about how the Philippines process abaca fiber, SHE can hopefully make better use of banana fiber in Rwanda. Enhancing the production of go! pads means that more women and girls can have access to affordable menstrual pads. Thanks for your work in the Philippines Leah, now let’s make better go! pads at home!