The Women's Bakery

The Women's Bakery: Inspire. Empower. Grow.

Kigali, RwandaRwanda
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

TWB is an education-centered social enterprise that empowers women through 1.) 185+ hour business, baking, and life skills training program, 2.) Provides women access to resources, start-up capital, and on-going support to develop and grow local bakeries.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we live in a world where all women have access to education and employment opportunities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Women’s Bakery addresses women's lack of access to the following interrelated, prevalent problems in urban and rural East African communities: 1) Economic empowerment 2) Social empowerment 3) Nutritious, affordable foods and 4) Sustainable local market generation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Using education as our foundation, TWB empowers women with business, baking, nutrition, and life skills. We collaborate with local organizations to connect with viable women’s groups. We use a holistic training curriculum of 185+ hours covering business, baking, nutrition, life skills and bakery specific operations/management. Trainings are delivered in the local language, and fluent staff provide on-going support to operating bakeries. TWB groups access TWB recipes, branding, fuel-efficient ovens, and Bakery construction plans meeting government regulations. Bakeries produce highly nutritious and affordable breads to communities, and women employed at TWB bakeries earn over 200% above average.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

•One bakery creates 3 – 6 jobs for otherwise unemployed women, who care for 3 – 10 children •Women’s average monthly incomes are doubled when they work at a TWB bakery. •All breads are fortified with locally sourced peanut or soy flours. Banana bread loaves have 41g protein. One muffin contains 4g protein, 10% of daily value. •Women sell to neighboring villages and towns, sparking locally driven economic growth and introducing new, nutritious foods. In Tanzania, one TWB training resulted in 2 bakeries, which provide 8-10 women with jobs at twice the average local salary. Every week, over 250 protein-fortified muffins are produced and sold in Kemondo, and over 400 are produced and sold in Bukoba. That’s 2,600 added grams of protein!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Women with steady incomes are more likely to save their money and spend it on the health, education and safety of their families. To date, TWB has trained 28 women, worked directly with over 40 community members, and spurred two functioning bakeries in Tanzania. In Rwanda, we are currently training 15 women, and will train 30 total by May 1016, sparking 3 new bakeries in the next 6 months. Over the last year, our team has grown from 2 to 5 full-time and 1 part-time staff, along with several interns and MBA student focus-teams. Our goal over the next 5 years is to impact at least 500 women across 5 countries (Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, USA). With our education-centric program, we focus on quality of impact, not quantity. Educating 500 women will have a ripple effect on their families and communities, directly impacting at least 2,500 others.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

TWB is currently scaling programming in Rwanda, and will focus most program efforts there in 2016-2017. Before growing in to new countries, we must first refine and prove our model. We will adapt the model continuously, based on results from M&E metrics as well as experiential evidence. TWB expects to expand operations outside of Rwanda by late 2016. In doing so, we will follow a phased approach: Scouting, Piloting, Scaling, and Monitoring and Support. In order to meet our planned growth, we are currently seeking funding from donors, fellowships, grants, and TWB revenue streams.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

As a hybrid, TWB ensures financial sustainability through multiple veins. The LLC in Rwanda brings revenue from training fees. As we scale in RW, this revenue will cover all local operating costs, including operations and local staff salaries. In the US, the 501c3 relies on donors & investors to fund management staff, general operations, and program development.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many organizations in Rwanda also aim to empower women or address education and nutrition deficits, such as DOT Rwanda, Resonate, and Gardens for Health. TWB stands out from these because we have a holistic approach that tackles all of these issues at once. DOT provides education, Resonate builds life skills, and Gardens for Health provides farming inputs. TWB combines business, nutrition, and life-skills education with technical baking skills and the start-up and support to build a sustainable business from these. Our program has practical application and measurable impact.
Team

Founding Story

Something as simple as a loaf of bread has the power to create jobs, add nutrition to meals, and support a community’s economic growth. Serving with the US Peace Corps Rwanda, 2010-12, we saw that our communities lacked economic opportunities for women, access to nutritious foods, and bread. All three were in demand. When women in our communities asked, "Will you teach us?" in respect to bread, we said Yes! In 2013-14, we began collaborating, building a business model that generates social change through enterprise, focusing on nutrition, education, and women’s empowerment.

Team

Our full-time team is comprised of three Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Rwanda (Culver-- Founder & Director; Greene—Co-founder & East Africa Program Director; Newell—US Program Officer) and two Global Health Corps Fellows (North—East Africa Program Officer; Nshizirungu—Rwanda Training Facilitator). This team has over 15 collective years experience working in East Africa in areas including rural development, women’s leadership development and training, education, small business creation, co-operative organization, and health and nutrition. Core team members also have extensive experience in Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, fund development, project development and management, grant and proposal writing, operations management, financial planning, marketing and performance metrics. In addition to our full-time team, TWB has a wide network of part-time members and volunteers within the US that make our work professional and possible. Hornsby is a Co-founder and a former VP of Marketing who acts as a key thought-leader, strategist and visionary for our US development. McKeever heads fundraising and development strategy. Other part-time roles include: Professional fortified recipe development & food labeling by a Registered Dietitian; financial modeling and projections by a CPA; website and social media design by a graphic designer; social performance metrics development by veteran NGO workers; and legal counsel with Howard & Howard. MIT, Harvard and Washington University MBA students also volunteer with TWB to further our work in areas of social media, business models, and metrics. As we grow, TWB foresees hiring 3 new Rwandan staff in 2016: Training Facilitator, Training Manager, & Group Manager. In 2017, we plan to hire 4 more local staff, adding 2 Training Facilitators, 1 Lead Trainer, and 1 Regional Manager. To foster program growth and propel expansion into new countries we are also investing in our stateside non-profit team, adding fundraising, development, marketing and management staff in 2016-17.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Ashoka reached out to our team via email, and after a phone call discussing the program, we found it was a good fit.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, East Africa Program Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

In 2012-13, Culver started The Rwanda Women's Bakery (RWB) in Bushoga, Rwanda where she was serving with the Peace Corps. This co-op bakery model was the original inspiration for what is now The Women's Bakery. The Rwanda Women's Bakery was successful as a community bakery for a few months, but it eventually ceased working, due to a variety of factors. Culver and Greene have studied these factors extensively, and developed the TWB model with the successes and weaknesses of RWB always in mind. Rather than viewing RWB as a failure, we view it as a valuable learning tool that has inspired much more strategic development and heavily bolstered training curriculum in the TWB model.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Currently, TWB is working with select groups of MBA candidates from MIT Sloan School and Harvard Kennedy School to refine our business model and research relevant market ideas.
Our office in St. Louis is housed at CIC St. Louis, where Culver has regular access to other entrepreneurs.

In Rwanda, we partner with US Peace Corps, which provides access to relevant community development materials and connection to viable groups. We also partner with MASS Design, which created a fuel-efficient oven prototype for use in our bakeries.