Twelve months after starting my work with TWB I finally picked up a copy of The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz. While Markey and my mother had insisted I read this book for months, I simply didn’t do it. Instead, I decided to read mysteries and outdated bestsellers to fill sleepless nights. Finally after a moment of pause in the U.S., I did it. I started reading The Blue Sweater.
Jacqueline’s professional journey started in New York, jumped to Kenya, making a circuitous stop in Rwanda, before continuing all over the world. Jacqueline arrived in Rwanda in the late 1980s where she helped to found Duterimbere, a micro-finance bank, which has an office on the road to downtown Kigali. While she went on to travel in a variety of places and founded other impressive organizations like Acumen Fund, her experience in Rwanda in particular,resonated with me. At the time, I couldn’t have felt more understood than I did while reading her reflections about Rwanda.
The book reminded me that life is just a patchwork of failures and lessons learned. That the most potent and important parts of your work are frequently learning from how you did it wrong. If you’re lucky, one day, you might just learn enough to make a difference in a big way.
While The Women’s Bakery is just starting its journey, we already have long lists of lessons learned. And, if we have one, two, or ten failures, it doesn’t mean we have to stop building. It just means we have to get creative. We have to make sense of our failures and try again.