2019 will be our fifth official year. I can hardly believe it as I write this. Five years!
For me, our fifth year marks the beginning of a new chapter for us: The Women’s Bakery 2.0. When I said this to Hilary, our Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) last week, she laughed and said, “I think it’s more like TWB 7.0.” And really, in many ways she is correct. Our journey up to this point has been a series of iterations – design, implement, tweak, repeat. These iterations, while tiring and often discouraging, have gotten us closer to where we are today, and closer to a tried and true model that works.
We started in 2014 with a dream – to build women-powered bakeries in East Africa. In many ways our dream has become a reality, and 2019 will serve to be the year of shoring up the stability of this dream.
To start, we have clearer direction in our mission – to build a women-centric social enterprise that gainfully employs women and provides access to quality breads in East Africa – which will aide better role designations, expectations and task execution. We have more tangible (and, frankly, attainable) goals – to enhance company culture, to socially and economically empower women, and to achieve profitability at our existing bakeries – which will aide in streamlining our operations and celebrating our successes.
We are recommitting ourselves to social enterprise, meaning we continue to place equal weight on social impact and financial return. Social enterprise is a balancing act and we are constantly re-calibrating. Often the for-profit and non-profit threads pull against each other, creating an ever-shifting landscape to equilibrate. But we’re inching closer and closer, harmonizing both sectors in small but powerful ways. That is why social enterprise is so important today – in a world that is seemingly increasingly polarized between profit and philanthropy, we are proving that business can and should be used as a tool for social good.
We have such a strong team – women at our bakeries, staff in our offices, interns, donors, and volunteers – and I am excited to watch them soar this year. I'm very proud to be part of something so much greater than myself. To be a part of a team that believes in the power of women and is committed to women’s autonomy.
So, here’s to 2019, may this be a year of hope and strength, learning and success, commitment and celebration. We couldn’t have made it this far without you. Thank you for being part of our team and helping us build our dream of women-powered bakeries throughout East Africa – bread power!