Seven ventures will compete in the Global Impact Award finals on Monday, October 29th. Up to $50,000 will be awarded to one or more ventures.
Since the announcement of the 2018 finalists in April, all finalists have been paired up with industry mentors and have been polishing their pitches and Opportunity Summaries. Each week leading up to the finals in October, we will introduce one finalist team individually. Check back each week for a new profile!
This week is all about…
The Women’s Bakery, Inc.:
Industry: Social Enterprise; workforce development; business creation & launch; bakery business
Total Number of Employees: 43
When They Formed: 2015
Total Funding (as of September 2018): $1M
What problem are you solving?
The Women’s Bakery addresses the lack of access to opportunity for women in East Africa.
How do you solve the problem?
We create access to education and sustainable employment for women through the building of bakeries.
About the Founding Team:
Markey Culver (MBA ’17)
Co-Founder and Co-Director
As Co-Director, Markey leads strategic vision, corporate partnerships, business development, and overall governance. She has BA in Communications from Furman University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Co-Founder and Co-Director
As Co-Director, Julie leads strategic vision, operations, bakery performance, and personnel. She has a BS in Geology from Macalester College and is pursuing her MBA at Oxford University.
Director of Operations and Finance
As Director of Operations and Finance, Meg leads strategic vision, human resources, company systems and processes, and finance. She has a BA in Environmental Studies and African Studies from St. Lawrence University and an MPH from Boston University School of Public Health.
Director of Education and Development
As Director of Education and Development, Heather leads strategic vision, marketing, communications, and curriculum development. She has a BA in American Studies from Hendrix University and is pursuing her MA in Counseling & Therapy at University of Colorado Denver.
What has been your biggest lesson learned since starting your venture?
Markey Culver (MC): I’ve learned that proof and growth must be symbiotic. That is, you can’t do one without the other. Nor, can you simply focus on one without an intention for the other. From this, I’ve learned that scale can be a harmful demand of a start up, especially for social enterprises because they typically have higher costs and longer profitability horizons. In the same vein, I’ve also learned that depth of impact has a far greater trajectory for sustainability than breadth.
Julie Greene (JG): Most things are not as simple as they seem. And that is ok! The learning and growth that comes from figuring out the intricate details of a solution, project, or system can, for me, be more satisfying and useful in the long term than the quick fix I originally sought.
Meg North (MN): My biggest lesson learned since starting TWB is to be mindful of growth. Trying to replicate a business model too quickly without a proof of concept and a solid framework for operations can drain resources and staff. Focus on doing one thing well, grow that one thing, make sure it works, and then replicate.
Heather Newell (HN): Working together, on a team, is much stronger than doing something in isolation.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
MC: I love finding opportunity where others see risk, as well as the challenge/privilege of creating a reality from that opportunity.
JG: I love the opportunity it affords you to find your own solutions and to test new things with the freedom to pivot and flex nimbly based on the results you see. It also pushes you to take full responsibility for what you do, which is a great challenge.
MN: What I love about being an entrepreneur is thinking through the implementation of operational systems. Thinking about if you put in place X system, how can that system realistically be maintained and what will it mean for the business success in one year or two years or five years. I love thinking about how system efficacy can improve the business overall.
HN: There’s a freedom to try, test, and explore new things. Failure doesn’t really stop me. I’d rather try than not.
What words of advice do you have for those who are interested in starting a business?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a necessary step for innovation.
Listen. Be sure you’re hearing what people are telling you.
Be brave. Things won’t work out the way you planned, or the way you wanted them to.
Be ready and able to pivot. Transformation will be essential to continued success.
Ask for help. You’re never alone.
Keep fighting. Because women’s autonomy is always worth the fight.
JG: Know what motivates you to do the business you are starting. There will be days or periods of extreme highs and extreme lows—knowing your driving and motivating force will help you weather the lows and stay focused through the highs.
MN: The words of advice that I have for other people starting a business is to only create and implement systems that can realistically be maintained. The more complicated and cumbersome the less likely your team will continue to use them.
HN: Trust your gut. There will be a lot of decisions, choices, and crossroads that may not have one perfect answer. You are powerful, strong, and brilliant enough to make those decisions—just trust yourself.
Like what you see? Follow along The Women’s Bakery’s journey: