Empowerment: Dough, Displacement, and Daily Bread

We stepped into the tiny courtyard of an unfinished house a few blocks off the main road and were greeted by a gaggle of kids and moms. With four widows, their children, mother and an adult sister with Downs Syndrome living in one space, things can get a little tight.

Finances are tight, too. These families are all displaced, run out of their homes by the fighting between Islamic State militants, the Iraqi Army, and Shia militias. The violence took much more than their homes though—it took their husbands. They are starting over from scratch, with each other for support, and all of the responsibility for their young families heavy on their shoulders. It’s a lot of pressure for these young women to bear.

When your donations provided an opportunity for these women to start a business through Preemptive Love Empowerment grant for small businesses, they jumped at the chance! Finally a bright spot in an otherwise bleak situation. They decided to make bread to sell, and used sempowerment funds to purchase an oven, propane, and enough flour to get them started.

The sisters have adopted a subscription model for their bread business. They make the flat bread at home, in a back room. Neighbours have committed to buying their daily bread needs from the sisters, instead of going outside the neighbourhood.

For the sisters, having subscribers means they are able to run their business in a way that keeps overhead costs down. They don’t pay extra rent for a bakery space. They can buy just the quantity of ingredients they need and make exactly the amount of product to satisfy their subscriptions, which means no waste. No waste means a maximized profit margin.

These sisters are smart!

In this culture, flat bread is essential for every meal. Made with simple ingredients and without preservatives, it doesn’t last well—it really needs to be made daily. But it’s a little time consuming to make, so for busy households with extra money, buying bread from a neighbour is a great solution.

Neighbours get fresh bread delivered to their door and the sisters get meaningful work that allows them to support their families—it’s a win-win situation. Running their business from home also means there are always hands available to knead dough, tend to a fussy baby, or comfort a sister with limited means to grasp all of the loss their family has suffered.

The ability to access empowerment funds for their business has meant that their basic needs can be met, their children can be in school, and they can catch their breaths and make a plan for their future.

The sisters praised their mother and were obviously grateful for the steady presence she has been in their lives, even through all of the recent turmoil. Their mother said “I don’t know what they would have done without me.”

We feel the same way about each one of you who gave toward Empowerment grants. Thank you for giving these women the ability to be independent.

Continue to support life-changing empowerment projects through small business grants.