Innovative Banana Leaf Sanitary Pads Hit a Design Snag

Rwandan women prefer imported sanitary pads than a locally-made organic version.

The road to problem solving in developing countries is never straight.

So finds social entrepreneur Elizabeth Scharpf who started Sustainable Health Enterprises to address an urgent need in Rwanda for access to low-cost sanitary pads

Since Scharpf's announcement of her award winning idea last year, she has been field testing, Komera, the prototype pad manufacturing machine to make the pads. The table-sized Komera machine, designed by MIT mechanical engineering majors, can be easily operated with just two people and produces five pads per minute.

So what's the problem? According to Engineering for Change

The Rwandan women were skeptical of the pads' quality. They prefer pads that look and feel like the more expensive imported pads than the locally made ones meant to replace them.


Maybe SHE should sell them in the United States and create a buzz around the new organic Rwandan sanitary pads, get Angelina Jolie to buy them and then the Rwandan women will use them. Don't they say it's a woman's right to change their mind?