On March 9th, the day after International Women's Day, I took some time to reflect on the purpose of the celebration. My inbox was abuzz with celebratory Women themed messages and I was going to send the same. But then I thought, perhaps we should talk about how to make decisions that have a lasting economic impact on other women? I strongly believe that most social ills (education, health, poverty, etc.) can be alleviated if individuals have a sustainable job.
Fontamara, Haiti: Kreyol Essence founder, Yve-Car Momperousse sorting castor seeds with staff
I recall in 2015, shortly after setting up a 2nd castor production facility, we had a country-wide seed shortage. Forty-five Haitian women were running the factory and making black castor oil the good old fashion way— hand sorting and selecting the best seeds for roasting, grinding, stirring, and masterfully drawing oil in a way that I have yet to see done anywhere else with such precision. The way we hand-craft and process our oil in Haiti is truly what makes Haitian Black Castor Oil unique and rare.
We had a large order and were very close to running out of seeds which means we would have to shut down operations and our producers would not be able to work. A mentor once said that "crazy illogical love, driven by strong emotion makes us go beyond our natural abilities to meet the needs of another. The love of a social entrepreneur is not so different. It is a relentless desire to see your business enterprise have a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of your most vulnerable stakeholders. It goes beyond the abstract concept of "giving back" or "doing good". Something happens when the "object of your affection" has a face and a voice."
Fontamara, Haiti: (left) Handcrafted Haitian Black Castor Oil being stirred. (right) Kreyol Essence staff sort castor seeds to prepare for castor oil production
With the long-term view of creating jobs, we met with our staff and partners and decided to increase our impact across oceans by sourcing additional seeds from Bangladesh. I would go across oceans and rivers to create work for the women in Haiti. I never set out to be this involved in agriculture, but we now have several partnerships which includes a nursery that has produced over 10,000 castor plants and a five year partnership with UNEP & ORE to cultivate and promote castor in the South of Haiti.
Fontamara, Haiti: Morning role call, Kreyol Essence women producers prepare for Haitian Black Castor Oil production
You don't need to start an agribusiness that sources from the developing world or start a manufacturing business to have a lasting impact on women (however I will be sharing my lessons learned and how to do this in our new Beauty + Development blog section 😊 ). You can start by making sure to buy from companies that hire women and are run by women: Stella Jean, Zesa Raw, 7 Virtues and Kuli Kuli. These amazing companies are committed to impact with impressive sourcing strategies both within and outside of Haiti.
In celebration of women, feel free to use the code "Decisions" to get 20% off your purchase of Kreyol Essence products; I hope this helps you make a decision to start (or continue) empowering women by helping to create work.
With Women's Month Love,