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Sanitary Pads Will Change the World

Sanitary Pads Will Change the World

Dealing with having a period each month is difficult enough, but imagine if you had no access to feminine hygiene products, and had to make due on your own. Going to the store and picking up a bag of pads or a box of tampons is something we all take for granted.

But consider this, millions of girls and women in developing countries miss up to 50 days of school/work per year because they can't afford to buy sanitary pads. In Rwanda alone, women missing work contributes to an estimated loss of  $115 million in GDP per year.

One enterprising young woman, Elizabeth Scharpf, armed with her Harvard Business School degree and a grant from the HBS Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship decided to do something about it. In 2007 Scharpf launched Sustainable Health Enterprises in an effort to tackle socio-economic problems in the developing world through market-based approaches. In layperson's terms she's turning free-market capitalism into a sustainable ecological practice.

In 2009 SHE began training women to make and market sanitary pads in Rwanda. Through product innovation and creating a financially sustainable business model owned and run by women, SHE hopes to create a template that can be replicated anywhere else in the world. You can help support SHE's efforts here.

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