I believe creating access to opportunity is the best way to affect lasting and self-directed change.
After living and working in Bushoga, a rural village deep within Rwanda, I was inspired by the power of business. Business, I believed, could be harnessed as a tool to tackle social problems, namely malnutrition, lack of economic opportunity and social inequality. Bread, therefore became my medium for opportunity creation and good business. In 2013, I started The Women’s Bakery, a social enterprise that equips East African women with irrevocable business education and vocational skills. In essence, we train women to build, manage and sustain their own bakeries which sell affordable, highly nutritious breads.
So that’s what we do: we teach women how to make and sell healthy breads and collectively manage their own profitable businesses.
Today, we have two independently operating bakeries in Tanzania and we’ve just launched a third bakery in Kigali, Rwanda. For a snapshot of our impact, one of our bakeries creates 3 – 10 jobs for otherwise unemployed women who care for an average of four children each. After working at a bakery for a few months, women have the opportunity to double their average monthly incomes. Just imagine what you could do if you doubled your income.
People have asked me, “why don’t you just build the bakeries for the women since they’re so poor, or give away your nutritious bread for free?” Simply put, giving away goods for free disrupts micro-economies. It takes away opportunities for job creation and business evolution. But, teaching populations how to produce and sell goods that are in demand? That creates access to opportunity.
Vocational training creates access to opportunity because it imparts an irrevocable skill – a skill that can never be taken away. A skill that fosters capacity building. And a skill that affords a woman her shot at a self-directed life. That’s real empowerment. And that’s exactly what we do at The Women’s Bakery.