How Do I Love Thee? (An ode to Economic Empowerment)
Economic Empowerment Is Love...
As an entrepreneur, when I think about love, I think about joy and, the doors of opportunity and access that have been opened for me, and how I plan to pay it forward to others.
I still remember that day, sitting on a white plastic chair in the center of a community in Northern Nigeria, waiting for the women Shea harvesters to return back from the farm. We had visited several communities that day and decided to make one last stop. We were not expected so we sat patiently waiting for the women to arrive.
As I sat in the quiet village space, I thought about all the places we had visited that day and all the women I had met and spoken to. The common thread that ran through all of our interactions was the excitement in their eyes when I told them that I was interested in purchasing large volumes of Shea butter from their co-op group. To these women, I represent an access point for their product, Shea butter and the potential of having a long term customer they can count on. This access point also translates to financial security that supplements their farming income, and provides extra resources to clothe, educate, feed their children, and support their families.
Access and opportunity to improve our lives and communities is a universal desire. According to American Express, the number of Women-owned businesses in the US is growing 2.5 times faster than the national average. With this growth comes the need for access to mentors, capital, distribution channels and human resources. Access can make a difference between sustainable growth, or a business lingering in the proverbial “valley of death”.
This Valentine’s Day, I am filled with gratitude for the love I have received through the course of my entrepreneurial journey. I am grateful to have an incredibly passionate and loyal team that believes in the vision and mission of Shea Radiance: to influence the way women care for themselves and others.
Love is when someone invests time and money into your development as a CEO, I have received this love from my mentors at the Motley Fool, Conscious Venture Labs and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business program.
Love now makes it possible for us to keep our promises to the amazing women in our supply chain by using their handcrafted, unrefined Shea butter in our products. Love that creates access through trade means dignity and financial independence for women to care for their families. Economic empowerment is LOVE.
Happy Valentine’s Day,