Seasons

To everything in life there is a season. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to sow and a time to reap. For The Women’s Bakery, this year has already held many seasons. 

66854899_2171775949611450_5959946565551390720_n.jpg

In January, we sowed the seeds of recommitment to our social enterprise model and fully leaned into The Women’s Bakery 2.0. In February, we rolled up our sleeves and began kneading out more efficient bakery workflows and operations. These skills were honed in large thanks to Rob VanErven, baker extraordinaire, on loan from corporate partner Rademaker, BV. 

In March, we celebrated the strength of women with International Women’s Day. April brought a season of remembrance for the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. May ushered in a season of honoring the mothers in our lives, especially the bread winners at The Women’s Bakery. And June brought a season of loss and sadness. 

At the beginning of June, we learned from The Women’s Bakery’s first employee and Co-Founder, Julie Greene, that her time with the company was drawing to a close. The next week, our team was forced to grieve another loss - a strong bakery woman, Kayitesi, who died unexpectedly. 

Both of these women embody the spirit, values, and principles of The Women’s Bakery.

To Kayitesi, we say rest in peace strong woman. 

To Julie, we say thank you. Words are not enough to describe Julie’s incredible contributions to and impact on The Women’s Bakery. She has been an integral part of birthing, fostering, and building The Women’s Bakery to the place it is today. She gave her blood, sweat, and tears to ensure that the bakery women had every opportunity for gainful employment and social empowerment in their lives, and she committed herself to supplying communities with access to nutritious, affordable breads. The world is a better place because of this work. Julie, you are an incredible person. Thank you for leading us, working alongside us, and making us better. You will forever be a part of The Women’s Bakery and we will be forever grateful to and for you.

And so like The Byrds said, “To every season, [we] turn, turn, turn.” 



The Multiplier Effect

By Tessa Soni

In 1909, Women’s Day was started as part of the labor movement in the United States. By the next year, 100 women from 17 countries met in Copenhagen, Denmark to advocate for women’s rights and the right to vote. On March 8, 1917, Russian women protested for “Bread and Peace”. 4 days later in countries around the world women were granted the right to vote. Today, this special day is celebrated to boast women’s achievements, advancements and value regardless of their culture, their social or economic background, their religious upbringing or country of origin.

IWD_2018_26.jpg

When I was in high school, I remember that none of the female staff were seen in the kitchen on International Women’s Day. Meals were prepared only by male staff. What I remember the most from those days - apart from the fact that auntie Judith’s sauce was impossible to replicate - was the change in attitude of the women at my school. I was amazed by how such little encouragement and validation brought such noticeable positive impact in the female staff. 

Those high school days brought me to the belief that investing in women has a multiplier effect. In the 1920’s Ghanaian scholar, James Emman Aggrey, said, “If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.” 

TWB Bread7.jpg

I personally believe that The Women’s Bakery is living proof of this concept. From a very brave woman baking bread with neighbor ladies in Bushoga, Rwanda to today’s company which employs 42 women, TWB practices the multiplier effect every day.  Every woman who works for TWB is a rock star. She is to be celebrated today on International Women’s Day and every day.

As one of the newest additions to the team, I have to admit I had my own set of questions and uncertainties about how TWB was living the multiplier effect when I first joined. Why bread? Can you really make a business profitable based on such a perishable and highly produced commodity as bread? How do you decide where to draw the line between the social and operational needs of such a business?

I believe one of the biggest truths in this world is that you can accomplish almost anything if you are dedicated enough. I think that is the common character trait in everyone working at TWB and what makes TWB successful. We are dedicated to women, and bread is our tool to impact a nation.

4ba4c6af-4fb4-47bb-affa-69dd0b7020d6.JPG

At TWB, the expression “wearing many hats” has brought on a whole new meaning for me. And I find power in that. I find power in a woman with a public health background with better financial skills than many accountants I’ve met. I find power in a colleague who is a highly experienced professional with an MBA and an impressive career path. And I find power in a woman who lives in the far ends of Kagina with no professional qualifications prior to working for TWB. The dedication to make a social and economic impact in the community is equally real for each of them.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I can’t help but feel privileged to work alongside women who are truly, in every sense of the meaning, worth fighting for. Their achievements, no matter their culture, social or economic background, their religious upbringing or country of origin, are to be celebrated! Happy International Women’s Day!

IMG_1670.JPG

Building the Plane

We are truly the experts in the nitty gritty. We are the pilots who never lack the investment or zeal to see the manufacturing of this beast through. We bust through barriers on a daily basis as we seek to build around the details that unfold. We adapt, innovate, and lead together