The Power of a Product

Even though I work for The Women’s Bakery, leveraging bread and business as means to create opportunity for women in Rwanda (and one day, around the world), don’t be fooled: I’m not an expert baker. When I was incollege, if there was a celebration, I could absolutely bake – from a box. Dry cake or bread mixes were close friends of mine and I would often curate masterful creations of funfetti cakes.

A lot has changed since then. I have baked more breads in the last three years than I previously did my entire life. Using TWB specialty recipes as a launch pad, I have been unafraid in trying new things and getting better at being unafraid in the kitchen. I may not be a bread master, but I am good baker these days, and I am proud of that.

Yet, we – The Women’s Bakery – consistently return to the question – for those not in Rwanda, how can we connect others to our work? What kind of product could we introduce to new communities, particularly in the United States?

Dry Bread Mix. Boom.

Developing and scaling a dry bread mix – based on our TWB recipes – was Markey’s brain child from the beginning. And excitingly, we are now taking the steps to fully research, develop, and test this market opportunity.

For the last three months, we have tested the product within our TWB family, sending free mixes to interested individuals to bake, test, and provide their opinion with surveys. For those that participated, thank you. Your feedback and insights are informing our next iteration of the product, which will bring us closer to launch, and inherently, the ability to build a revenue stream for our work in East Africa and fully launch programs in the United States.

TWB's Program Manager, Hilary Hilsabeck, had her mother, Stacy, test and try the mix. It was a success!

TWB's Program Manager, Hilary Hilsabeck, had her mother, Stacy, test and try the mix. It was a success!

We’re learning a lot.

We learned that roasting sweet potatoes for 40 minutes is a lot of prep work when you are considering buying a mix that is marketed as quick or instant. We learned that we should double the recipe. We learned that 88% of our testers would pay more for a product like ours that supports a social mission. We learned how to adjust the label. We learned that the uniqueness of using sweet potatoes is enticing for our customers. The earthiness, color, and simplicity of our packaging is appealing.

Now, we are taking this information and iterating – again.

TWB friend, Zach Verwey, tested the bread and used microwavable sweet potatoes. This kind of innovation is exactly what we hoped to see in the market testing phase. 

TWB friend, Zach Verwey, tested the bread and used microwavable sweet potatoes. This kind of innovation is exactly what we hoped to see in the market testing phase. 

This is not unlike what we are doing in Rwanda – constantly designing, delivering, learning, adapting, changing, and trying again. This is business. This, in our case is social business, always changing and adapting so that we not only meet our bottom line of profitability, but also, empowering the women we work with.

We have a vision for where we are going.

Our dry bread mix is not just a mix in a box. It’s a powerful product, one that will not only support the women we work with in East Africa, but also support women that we will, in the future, work with in the United States.

Seriously, that’s bread power.