SHE uses the abundant resource of banana fiber agro-waste to produce menstrual pads that address the overlooked demand for affordable menstrual products in developing countries.

SHE manufactures, distributes and sells affordable ‘go!’ menstrual pads in Rwanda, helping more women and girls get access to safe and effective pads. SHE has developed a process that can transform banana fibers – an agro-waste – into an absorbent core for the sanitary pads, without the need for any chemicals or super absorbent polymers. This readily available agro-waste allows the go! pad to be priced lower than other multinational brands, enabling girls and women to access affordable, eco-friendly pads.

We have created a new market for environmentally friendly menstrual pads, thereby creating jobs and income opportunities across the value chain.

Elizabeth Scharpf – Founder and Chief Instigating Officer, SHE

SHE’s technology also enables entrepreneurs to replicate this innovative production process and spread access to more affordable sanitary pads in other regions. To date, SHE has created 17 jobs and generated income opportunities for 600 farmers. In 2016, their first full year of production and sales, they sold 227,000 ‘go!’ pads. In addition, SHE actively trains teachers so that they can educate students in menstrual hygiene, and they run their own menstrual health radio show with 2.5 million listeners.

Why you should care

Approximately one in ten African girls do not attend school while menstruating, averaging four days of absenteeism every month. For working women, lack of access to sanitary pads can also mean days off work, resulting in lost income and productivity. This lack of access to sanitary pads leads to significant overall losses in terms of education, health, income and dignity for girls and women.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Good health and well-being
When good quality sanitary pads are too expensive, unsanitized alternatives such as rags, tree bark or mud are used, leading to increased chances of health problems, according to SHE.

Quality Education
In some areas of the world many girls drop out of school after puberty starts because they lack adequate sanitation materials. The affordable pads from SHE can help to change this.

Gender Equality
Sanitary pads make it easier for girls to continue attending school and women to not take days off work during menstruation, helping to ensure more equal participation and opportunities.

Decent Work and Economic Growth
SHE empowers girls, women and entire communities to address the lack of access to affordable products by creating income opportunities and jobs through local manufacturing and distribution.

Reduced Inequalities
Affordable sanitary pads help to improve access to essential hygiene products, reducing the effects of income inequality. At a macro-scale, SHE estimates that menstruation-related loss in productivity and schooling reduces GDP by $115 million annually in Rwanda.

Responsible Consumption and Production
SHE’s ‘go!’ pads have absorbent, biodegradable cores that contain no chemicals or polymers, so they can be safely disposed with minimal risk of causing environmental pollution.

About Sustainable Health Enterprises

SHE is helping women jumpstart social businesses to manufacture and distribute affordable menstrual pads. Coupled with health education and advocacy, girls and women will have even more productive lives than before.

Purchase product

Sustainable Health Enterprises
View profile


Global Goals addressed

Deployed in: Rwanda
Developed in: Rwanda, USA
Stage: Full implementation