Home News The Women’s Bakery aims to kick start the economy with girl power

The Women’s Bakery aims to kick start the economy with girl power

by Celia

Markey Culver’s vision of empowerment through education and employment for women has become a reality with The Women’s Bakery, a social enterprise established in Rwanda in 2015.

During her tenure with the Peace Corps in Rwanda, Culver, self-taught in bread baking, shared her knowledge with local women, enabling them to provide for their families by selling bread in their communities. Witnessing the transformative impact of this endeavor, Culver founded The Women’s Bakery to formalize the path to empowerment and employment for women. Today, the organization operates three bakeries in Rwanda, employing and educating women who produce bread for rural markets and provide daily meals to over 20,000 schoolchildren.

This initiative reflects a broader truth supported by data: countries with a robust female workforce experience stronger economies. According to the International Monetary Fund, closing the gender gap could significantly enhance gross domestic product in various countries, including Canada, Japan, Pakistan, and Niger. Additionally, studies cited by the IMF underscore the correlation between large gender disparities in education and negative impacts on gross national product. Empowering and employing women not only benefits individuals but also leads to improved community health, economic mobility, and increased purchasing power, all contributing to national economic growth.

Yet, significant barriers impede women’s participation in the workforce, particularly in developing countries like Rwanda. While challenges such as affordable childcare affect women globally, the absence of viable childcare options in Rwanda underscores the urgency of addressing such issues. Moreover, many women employed by The Women’s Bakery lack formal education and require basic financial literacy training upon joining the workforce. The obstacles faced by these women highlight the pressing need for tailored support and resources.

As The Women’s Bakery strives for financial sustainability, it faces the temptation to cut social programs to achieve profitability. However, such actions would compromise its core mission. Pauline Kariuki, the organization’s chief operating officer, emphasizes that the essential services provided by The Women’s Bakery are indispensable to empowering and employing women in Rwanda.

Addressing cultural and political barriers to women’s participation in the workforce presents an opportunity for companies, communities, and economies to harness the strength and potential of a female workforce. By eliminating or mitigating these obstacles, societies can unlock the immense benefits that women bring to the workforce, driving sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

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