The Road Less Traveled

Written by TWB's Development Intern, Nichole Crust. 

I love women, baking, and entrepreneurship so when I was looking for an internship and found out about The Women’s Bakery (TWB) the organization seemed like a natural fit. I dug a bit deeper into their founders and model and was honestly skeptical. I wondered what a few white girls without business and baking experience could possibly have to teach Rwanda about health and economic development let alone baking?

The answer surprised me.

I’m so excited to be interning for The Women’s Bakery this summer. My internship started with a two-week trip to Rwanda. I landed in Kigali early on Monday and hit the ground running. Noel, the Country Director graciously picked me up from airport and whisked me away to TWB’s headquarters to meet the Rwanda team and learn more about TWB’s work by attending the team’s weekly meeting.

From my first interactions with the team, their drive and determination to intentionally and holistically impact the lives of women and their families was obvious. My first encounter was a conversation about fire wood and oven temperatures. The group was passionately discussing the best solutions to address problems with oven temperatures, costs of fire wood, lack of fire wood, and alternative fuel sources for their ovens. It seemed like a trivial issue, but it was complex and complicated.

TWB’s administration (which is the most positive and proactive administration I have encountered) approached the task of finding a solution with a holistic approach that not only considered the bottom line for TWB’s budget, but also considered the overall health and well-being of the bakery staff. It was beautiful to witness this team so naturally and intentionally solve this problem in a way the considered the greater good.

I saw this style of administration and problem solving played out again and again as a I visited each of the TWB’s bakeries. At TWB’s Kagina bakery I was struck by the forthcoming way an internal conflict was approached. A new employee who was also new to the city and a new job as a baker in a new organization was navigating the social relationships with other women bakers.

Instead of the issue being ignored, it was acknowledged and a conversation that lead led to a real understanding of each other was facilitated. Understanding the important role of food in problem solving, the women were treated to “tea” to continue to resolve the issue.

The work of TWB is not easy and its approach is on the road less traveled. However, TWB’s methods are effective and working to create systemic sustainable impact in the lives of its employees and their families.

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