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LaunchPads for Change Profiled in Pulitzer Prize Winners' Latest Book

A Path Appears, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, and Sheryl WuDunn, includes a profile of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) founder Elizabeth Scharpf on her journey from business school to rural Rwanda in pursuit of a solution to a pressing social problem: 18% of women and girls in Rwanda that SHE surveyed were regularly missing out on work or school because they could not afford to buy menstrual pads.

Quite apart from the personal injustice, and the larger issues of health and dignity, Scharpf calculated the potential GDP loss at $215 per women per year, a total of $115,000,000 in Rwanda alone. Determined to pursue an innovation not aid approach, Scharpf, through her organization SHE, Sustainable Health Enterprises, developed and patented a method to transform banana trunk fiber (typically thrown out) into 5-cent menstrual pads. Which could be sold cheaply to women, and to schools who could give them to girls who need them, 500 pads a day. 3,000 girls a month. A Path Appears weighs up the merits of the innovation not aid approach, and finds it to be highly successful: "innovators who are using research, evidence-based strategies, and brilliant ideas of their own to prevent violence, improve health, boost education, and spread opportunity at home and around the world."

The book concludes that "social entrepreneurship" and for-profit organizations are the most promising models for change. A Path Appears offers practical, results-driven advice on how best each of us can give and reveals the lasting benefits we gain in return. Kristof and WuDunn know better than most how many urgent challenges communities around the world face to­day. Here they offer a timely beacon of hope for our collective future.

"I believe what sets SHE apart, and merits being featured in A Path Appears, is our approach to disrupting traditional aid models," said Scharpf. "Strange as it may seem, my goal is to be driven out of a job by actually solving problems by applying good business ideas and practices to global issues."

"As a social venture, SHE is determined to seek out other solutions to unsexy or overlooked problems that can have a huge impact on people's everyday lives. There's a profound lack of toilets in the world. And transportation is a problem: developing countries make up 50% of the world's traffic, but have 90% of its traffic fatalities."

To learn more about Elizabeth Scharpf and SHE, please go to


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