This is a story on how The Women’s Bakery came about and why you should visit when in the neighbourhood.
Since 2015 The Women’s Bakery opened six bakeries in East Africa. Four in Rwanda, two in Tanzania. In the heart of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, there’s a beautifully decorated flagship bakery where you can peacefully sit down, relax (or work if you wish, they offer free WiFi) and enjoy a variety of breads, tea and French press coffee.
How a simple loaf of bread changed the world. Or at least a part of it
‘Poverty is the absence of choice,’ Markey Culver, Founder and Co-Director of The Women’s Bakery, strikingly mentions during her TED Talk. As a member of the Peace Corps Culver started baking bread with fellow volunteer Julie Greene in rural Rwanda. The main reason why she joined the Peace Corps was because she wanted to improve people’s lives.
Soon she realized that’s easier said than done. ‘I had no idea what it really meant to improve people’s lives, let alone how to actually do it,’ she says. The first year in rural Rwanda she did the only thing she could do: listen and observe. And while doing so, she discovered three problems: malnutrition, socio-economic disparity and limited opportunities, especially for women.
Culver began to understand that poverty goes far beyond just a lack of money and had more to do with an absence of choice, for example to not be in the position to choose what to feed your child, or when. She decided that if she wanted to improve people’s lives, she had to create access to choice. She did and found the answer in a simple loaf of bread she one afternoon made out of five ingredients she’d sourced locally: water, flower, yeast, sault and sugar.
The women of the village were astonished and asked her what it was and where she got. When they found out Culver made it herself they asked her if she could learn them, too. So, she did. There: the beginning of social enterprise The Women’s Bakery.
The Women’s Bakery, empowering women
Viewing poverty as the absence of choice The Women’s Bakery is committed to empowering women through education and business, giving them a choice to adopt a business, make it work in their community and by doing so create economic opportunities for themselves and their families. What we’d like to call conscious capitalism.
When they have access to a regular income, women can change their lives and the lives of their families. The Women’s Bakery provides that regular income by giving women the opportunity to work in bakeries which will increase their income allowing them to invest in education, health, and general livelihood for their families.
‘In East Africa, where nutrition, education and jobs are scarce, women’s empowerment is crucial to improving community health, promoting education for future generations and sparking local economies,’ states womensbakery.com.
‘Since 2015, The Women’s Bakery has launched a network of East African bakeries that gainfully employ women and sell nutritious, affordable breads.’ A success: women are earning money, community health is improving (‘We create breads that are both affordable and nutritious’), people are learning because of The Women’s Bakery trainings program with courses in accounting, inventory management, marketing, nutrition, and hygiene, providing women with relevant bakery skills.