Cultivating a New Industry

Smallholder farming plays an integral role in Rwanda’s economic development, and women contribute up to 70% of agricultural labor. Despite women’s major role in farming, they have significantly limited access to financing, technologies, credit, and education. SHE is working to bridge that gender gap with our reliance on local materials, including our local sourcing of banana fiber as the absorbent core of our go! pads.

SHE’s reliance on local sourced of our banana fiber enables farmers to receive additional income from the leftover and renewable banana fiber that remains after a banana tree is fully harvested. Local sourcing of banana fiber also stabilizes farmers’ income fluctuation that happens during the dry season and for the Umunezero co-op, contributes more than 33% of their annual income.

Our recent visit to the Umunezero co-op gives you an behind-the-scenes look at how banana fiber is one of many natural resources used to fuel Rwanda’s economic growth.

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.