By Brooke Breazeale, Associate Director
The Quest of the Social Entrepreneur
As social entrepreneurs, we strive to establish successful companies that will ultimately make a difference in the lives of those whom we have committed to serve and empower. But, whether it be providing services or managing the production and selling of products, navigating the many challenges that emerge when working with communities in far-off regions can be seemingly endless and overwhelming, leading many of us to consider the possibility of giving up.
Both Women’s Partnership Market and Briya were established with a commitment to improve the lives of women and their families; the ultimate goal is to break the cycle of poverty in impoverished regions by creating opportunities for training and income. We have both seen, first hand, the talent that women around the world have for making beautiful products that are unique and handmade. However, actually providing a platform for consumers to access these products is more challenging than we could have ever anticipated.
But, let’s be honest, we who seek to make a difference, to improve the lives of those who do not have the resources we do, to tackle social and situational issues that prevent others from obtaining those resources…we seek out, and kind of love those challenges, don’t we?
Challenges, in a Nutshell
In many of these remote areas, there are simply few local consumers to buy these products. Most potential customers are the other people living in the same communities who do not have expendable income to buy a necklace or handmade scarf. Other challenges include even being able to bring products to a place to sell them. Finally, there is the challenge of a lack of training opportunities or resources to develop their skills to sell in both domestic and international markets. And so, the cycle of poverty continues.
Their role continues to be confined to tending to all things domestic- gathering firewood, fetching water, preparing food and taking care of the children (in some areas, the average household can have 5-8 mouths to feed) with informal work, largely in the agricultural or service sectors.
The solution is to create avenues for them to access our markets, to reach the people that will buy these products, to encourage them to make quality products that will appeal to those people, while ensuring that they continue to express their unique talents and culture, and to provide a means for them to generate income that will adequately support them and their families.
So, stay tuned, and we will share with you some of the challenges we have faced throughout our journey, and hopefully, offer some insight to our fellow entrepreneurs navigating some of these same challenges.
Brooke Breazeale is Associate Director of WPMarket and Founder of Briya Bags.
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