Moms Know Best

This year, we celebrated Mother’s Day at our Ngoma production site by inviting our team’s children to tour the facility and enjoy in some special treats. We asked their children what they most appreciate about their mothers, and their responses (and photos) are too charming not to share!

Barbara, age 4

Barbara, age 4

“I like my mother because she buys me puppets and a bicycle.”

Igor, age 8

Igor, age 8

“I am proud of my foster mother (Aunty) because she continuously helps me to improve my class scores and because of her efforts this term I was ranked the third of my class.”

Bella, age 6

Bella, age 6

"I am proud of my mother and my family because they respect me."

Our mothers had their turn too to share what is most meaningful to them about working at SHE.

Nadine and her daughter Barbara, age 4

Nadine and her daughter Barbara, age 4

"I am inspired to go to work everyday because I am producing something helpful for girls and women."

Marie Louise Umulisa with her children

Marie Louise Umulisa with her children

" I didn’t feel comfortable to talk about menstruation and pads, but now that I produce them I feel comfortable and confident to talk about both menstruation and using pads."

Sandrine and her children

Sandrine and her children

"The most meaningful part of my work is that I proudly use the product that I have produced myself!"

Thanks to our working moms are doing to make a lasting impact for their children and for their communities! Happy Mother’s Day!

Sarah Boeckmann, our M&E consultant (second from left) learns more about the menstrual hygiene management challenges for girls from the headmistress at the GS Giyaka school.

By the Numbers: Our M&E Strategy

Guest post by Sarah Boeckmann, our M&E Consultant

I have been SHE’s Monitoring and Evaluation consultant for about 2 years. That means I have helped the team develop a logical framework for SHE’s education and advocacy work. I also developed tools to help them collect data that, in the long term, will help SHE understand the impact of its work on women and girls in Rwanda. Recently I had the chance to go to Rwanda to work with the team there to test some data collection tools that are being used to collect data from girls in 10 rural, primary schools.

SHE is at a very exciting moment right now because menstrual hygiene management (MHM) clubs are starting this term in 10 schools in Kayonza. The clubs are run by teachers trained by Nadia Hitmana, SHE’s Health and Hygiene Manager, to teach an MHM curriculum to students. Now that these clubs are about to kick off, and pads will be reaching these same schools, it is important for SHE to collect baseline data on the students in these clubs to understand the effect the training has on them.

SHE is interested both in how the training affects their knowledge of menstruation and healthy menstrual hygiene practices, but also if and how the training affects their behavior around menstruation. This includes everything from their use and disposal of pads, to how confident they feel during their period, to how often they are absent from school because of their period.

Data like this is tricky and complex to gather accurately and a good way to try to get the best data possible is to use a combination of quantitative (like surveys) and qualitative (like focus groups) data collection tools. It is hard to get these tools right without testing them in the setting where they are meant to be used.

While I was in Rwanda we spent a day in one of the schools testing the various tools with a classroom of girls who volunteered.  These are the kinds of things that we were looking for:

  • Were their questions that the girls didn’t understand?
  • Were we missing any possible answer choices on multiple choice questions?
  • How long did it take to complete a survey?

We also asked the students what they thought of the tools and how they were administered. Sometimes asking those kinds of open-ended questions point out problems you never would have considered.

Testing the tools in a real life setting always makes glaringly obvious issues you never would have considered. You might find out the tool you thought would take 30 minutes takes 2 hours, or that a question you thought was great makes absolutely no sense.

As for us, we had decided that to test the students’ knowledge of menstruation and MHM we would have them close their eyes and raise their hands yes or no/true or false in respond to a question. We thought this would solve the problem of having students of different ages and literacy levels taking one test. We also wanted to make the data collection process more fun for the students and not start the club off with formal test that might make the club seem boring or scary. What we hadn’t considered was that there would be so many kids in a small classroom that they could barely raise a hand and could definitely feel what the kids on either side of them were doing.

While piloting data collection tools highlight problems, it also makes solutions obvious as well. The teacher who was with us pointed out that afterschool clubs are often held outside and that if the students were outside they could be more spread out, solving the problem. Piloting the tools and seeing what issues arise helped us to make the changes needed to finalize the tools.

Nadia and Flora are collecting lots of great baseline data from more than 200 girls right now before they receive pads or start learning about MHM. Then we will collect data from a similar number of girls after they spend a term learning about MHM from SHE-Trained Teachers and see what changes or doesn’t change and why.

It is especially important for SHE to get this kind of rich, detailed information from the girls in these 10 schools so that the team can learn and make changes based on lessons learned as it scales-up to providing pads and teacher training throughout Rwanda.

Meet the SHE Team: Yvonne Krywyj

Hometown: Detroit

What is your role and what are some of your current projects?  I am the head of business operations for Rwanda, so I oversee everything that goes on here. Right now, I’m working on updating our team’s strategic plans and working to get our pads approved by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards, as well as engaging partners for future collaborations. 

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you? I can come up with haikus on command, about any topic. For example, here’s one for SHE:

This one’s for the girls: 

Period’s no cause for shame. 

Let’s break the taboo.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Or your favorite snack?

I’m not a big dessert person, but I can’t resist Ben & Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk, which I think has a new name now. My favorite snack, though, is wasabi peas. Or wasabi peanuts. Or really anything coated in wasabi.

What was the last song you just listened to?

Embrace, by Goldroom

Why did you join SHE?

I joined SHE because it offers a market-based approach to a social problem, because it creates jobs and increases income for women all along the value chain, because it benefits women and girls, and because I couldn’t ask for a better team of people to work with.

What do you wish other people knew about SHE?

I wish other people knew that SHE is not a traditional charity but, rather, is investing in people and growing the economy here in Rwanda while breaking the taboos around menstruation and making it easier for women and girls to go about their normal daily lives while on their periods. In the long-term, operating as a business is a much more sustainable approach than relying on donations forever.

Flora leading teachers training session Nov 2014

Meet the SHE Team: Flora Ufitinema

What is your role and what are some of your current projects?

As the Marketing and Research Associate, I serve as the brand advocate of go!, and work closely with the team to increase brand awareness, drive sales, and ultimately generate new business leads. I also provide research and analysis support to our health education and awareness program.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

People don’t believe that I can tell good jokes, but I always surprise them when I speak out and make people laugh. I seem more as an introvert, but in reality, I am both an introvert and extrovert.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Or your favorite snack?

Chocolate Ice Cream

What was the last song you just listened to?

“Create In Me A Clean Heart” by Donnie McClurkin

Why did you join SHE?

I joined SHE so I can be part of a team that inspires confidence in girls everyday of the month, and provides sustainable solutions to Rwandan young girls using our country’s resources.

What do you wish other people knew about SHE?

People should know that SHE enables girls to find freedom and dignity, promotes a positive outlook on menstruation and boosts girls’ confidence during a period of insecurity.

Health and Hygiene Manager Nadia Hitimana kicked off our initiative to train primary school teachers about menstrual health and hygiene management with 50 teachers from the Eastern District of Rwanda.

Teaching the ABCs about Menstrual Hygiene

Guest post by Nadia Hitimana, Health and Hygiene Manager, Rwanda

Our main goal of our teacher’s training initiative is to provide accurate information about menstrual hygiene management, or MHM. Education has always been our first step in breaking the silence and taboos about menstruation. We’re starting with teachers, whom will then train other staff members and key student leaders. This multiplier effect will then spread into the communities.

We began with a group of 50 teachers in November, and our objectives were (1) to increase teachers’ knowledge and skills about MHM; and (2) to equip teachers to train our MHM curriculum with their students.

Teachers deeply appreciated our training program. Our curriculum covered the gamut of health knowledge and related topics. The teachers were receptive, yet prevailing myths and taboos still came up as points of contention. I couldn’t believe it when one teacher still was not convinced that some women should be farming when menstruating.

Another teacher, however, expressed a new sense of admiration for his wife after learning about the menstrual cycle. “I am ashamed for blaming her about not being able to control the number of pregnancies she has had. I can’t imagine how confusing and stressful it must be for her and other women who are not informed.”

Our work with the 50 teachers continues throughout this year. We will continue to work with these teachers throughout 2015 so they can be effective MHM education trainers at their schools.

Stay tuned as we share more about our work with teachers this year!

Banana farmers with go! pads in Rwanda.

Changing the economy by investing in women farmers

In Rwanda, rural women farmers are key to the nation’s economy and are responsible for up to 80% of the food production. However, rural women farmers lack access to the education and skills-training needed to boost their incomes.

Our partnership with two women-led banana co-operatives is helping to change that – we trained 600+ farmers to extract banana fiber using our machines. We then buy that fiber, which is then used in our LaunchPads. These farmers are helping to boost girls’ futures, while our business helps to boost their income.

Many of the farmers are mothers too and need access to more affordable menstrual products plus the health education. We could not wait to return to the farmers and give them their own pack of pads, which we couldn’t have made without them!

We also invited them to take part in a menstrual hygiene awareness session, and had 30 farmers and mothers (with a few kids too!) join us. They are excited to learn more about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, and we look forward to sharing more of our health education with them and the other farmers.

SHE is Hiring! Business Operations Manager for SHE Rwanda

We are in an exciting time of growth and are looking to hire a Business Operations Manager to lead our Rwanda-based entity to profitability and scale. We are seeking a self–starter who sees things as opportunities (not challenges), and inspires and manages a team to scale our short, but proven track record. We are seeking someone who can do the following things:

  • Drive profitability and scale. This position will be responsible for the P&L by reducing supply chain costs, working with the technical team to increase productivity, and driving sales.
  • Develop evidence-driven implementation plan
  • Manage implementation plan roll-out while working with a diverse set of actors
  • Hire and develop staff in Rwanda
  • Advocate for SHE externally in Rwanda and globally
  • Lead with integrity


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

  • Track record: 6-10+ years of work experience, must have some operations experience.
  • Business savvy: Have been responsible for a P&L and built and managed teams that successfully executed on a strategic plan for impact and scale. Must be experienced in building financial models that will drive key parts of the strategy.
  • Can-do positive attitude (we did figure out how to make sanitary pads out of banana trees—not easy!)
  • Language: English required. + Kinyarwanda preferred.

Job Location: Kigali, Rwanda

 minimum: 2+ years commitment, full-time job.

Preferred Start Date:
 Oct 2014

Compensation: Competitive with performance-driven bonuses and raises

To Apply:

Please send cover letter and CV to by SEPTEMBER 30th and let us know why you would be the best person for the job today!

Being a Part of a Global Community

Post by Sylvere Mwizerwa, Business Development Officer, SHE Rwanda

I would like to first express my words of thanks to Barry and Dolly Segal and their family for their support of SHE and sub-Saharan Africa initiatives.

The Segal Family Foundation’s annual conference was wonderful and unique. I learned the best and polite ways to ask professional questions in front of a crowd of people with different backgrounds.  The conference helped me to grow as a person!

I met many like-minded people that do similar work that we do.  Michael Wilkerson, the CEO of Tugende, a moto transportation company in Uganda, shared helpful advice on how to approach governments when it comes to reducing taxes and forming public-private partnerships.

For example, Dr. Laura Stachel from We Care Solar, a social enterprise that distribute solar boxes to countries in Africa and Asia, personally taught me how she was able to form successful partnerships with government institutions. We Care Solar has partnerships with Ministries of Health and Ministries of Education which has helped them to distribute their products to hospitals and clinics at a lower price. Her model is amazing and is very similar to ours.

As the Business Development Officer, I am focused on reducing our supply chain and production costs. It was great to therefore meet Robina Sarah Naluwooza from Set Her Free from Uganda who recommended to potential new suppliers. This will help SHE Rwanda to drive down our costs during our operations.

The speeches, plenary sessions and lunch table discussions were really good opportunities to share our thoughts and discuss in large the challenges that we are facing and the way to solve these. I have formed a strong network among all types of social entrepreneurs.