For the second year in a row, a CEL Practicum team is traveling to Rwanda to consult for The Women’s Bakery (TWB), founded by Olin second year MBA Markey Culver. TWB offers women in rural Africa access to business education, life skills, and applied baking and nutrition skills. TWB’s training courses empower women to create and manage sustainable bakeries. This year, the CEL team is tasked with analyzing and reducing TWB’s financial overhead costs, while maintaining TWB’s social mission. Sara Berhie, MBA ’17, is a member of the CEL team and sent this account from Rwanda.
We visited our first TWB site here in Kigali, Rwanda. Our morning started with a quick breakfast and then the team piled into our two cars and drove through the winding streets of the capital. The Remera Bakery, a branch within TWB, is comfortably situated with homes and other storefronts surrounding it.
At the bakery we were greeted by the team and quickly dove into updating our client with our work in St. Louis, and questions we had compiled from our research.
Of course, we were sure to take a break once our order of bread came out of the oven! The team, except for Avery who has a nut allergy, dove into our order and were sure to try a bit of everything. We all have our favorites: some loved the carrot muffins, others were partial to the beet, but the clear overall favorite was the honey bread.
We continued our visit with a tour of the bakery and storefront, meeting the women baking the bread and saw a sales team heading out for their daily routes. Some of the sales were pre-orders while others were based on orders of the day. Once the sales team headed out, the sidewalks slowly became full of elementary aged children skipping, jumping, running, and strolling down the street post-school. Their cheerful voices echoed in the café as we wrapped up our meeting.
With our first meeting with the entire TWB team under our belts, we’re excited for the rest of the week. Up next on our docket: visiting two other bakeries across Rwanda, meeting with TWB trainers, and checking out a local grocery store to scope out the competition. Based on this information, we hope to have a greater grasp of where we can reduce costs to make a more efficient system, empowering as many women leaders as possible!
Pictured above is the CEL team at the TWB in Remera, Rwanda