Prosperity Candle: Empowering women in distressed regions one candle at a time
“My dream is that this candle I made will reach Obama in order to show him how Iraqi women are productive and can be independent. In the future, I would like my children to have a small factory of candles and tell everyone else that once their mother was producing these candles.”
- Wafa, Prosperity Candle Entrepreneur
Prosperity Candle celebrates women as a global force for peace and prosperity. We empower enterprising women in places of conflict and distress to start businesses that can generate more than a living wage, but can truly prosper. We work in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti where few others in the private sector are willing or able to invest.
We believe that traditional models for women’s empowerment need to be adapted to a changing world where women are seen as change agents rather than victims. Like the co-founders of Prosperity Candle, my background blends international development, women’s economic empowerment and social entrepreneurship. After being involved with efforts to support women in Afghanistan, Nepal, Lesotho and Kenya – many of which competed for resources while working in isolation – I have realized how rare it is to find true collaboration and innovation. Many well-intentioned development initiatives stall because they limit their work to one sector. I am helping found Prosperity Candle because I believe in our approach: a holistic model that applies best practices from international development, fair trade and women’s empowerment.
Prosperity Candle offers a unique model for women’s entrepreneurship. We have created a simple yet innovative model we call shared prosperity that enables each woman entrepreneur to share the success of the company through quarterly profit sharing.
At the heart of Prosperity Candle is an import, distribution and marketing company that prioritizes social impact over financial gain. Creating a business that is financially self-sufficient allows us to focus on creating social impact. Yet because we also recognize that the needs of women exceed the resources of our business, we have created the Prosperity Candle Foundation. The Foundation will offer educational opportunities in entrepreneurship and create a support network for women worldwide.
In partnership with Women for Women International, an organization that works with women survivors of war, we have provided candle-making kits and training to more than 40 Iraqi women. We are launching our first Prosperity Candle sales this April for Mother’s Day. Over 2,500 unique pillar candles will be gifted to mothers this spring – each one representing the beauty and resilience of an Iraqi woman starting a business from the safety of her home.
This milestone is a success, but it is only the beginning. We plan to grow in Iraq and expand to Rwanda, Haiti and Afghanistan. Our goal is to partner with 1,000 entrepreneurs by 2014, each business producing 1,000 candles each. A million points of light.
The entrepreneurs have shared their dreams with us. They aspire to create companies where they can employ their friends and family. Widowed women seek independence from the homes of their in-laws. Most want to provide for their children. Some have given voice to the less tangible benefits of making candles. Nazahat, for example, said “Prosperity Candles give me a sense of peace whenever I pour one.” Another told us that, with all the difficulties in her life, making candles brings her joy.
We believe we are well-poised to create significant social impact for women worldwide. The Opportunity Collaboration would provide our team with access to a well-timed period of reflection and a supportive community where we could expand our horizons, secure needed financing, and build strategic partnerships. I am someone who is energized by new connections and exploring collaboration. I believe that my attendance would propel our team forward as many potential partners and funders are attending. As one colleague notes, I am a “netweaver” with unique abilities to bring together disparate parties. With an MBA, international experience ranging from East Asia to South America, and a background in international development and social entrepreneurship, I am comfortable in and speak, literally and figuratively, the languages of many worlds. I hope to leverage these qualities to further our mission.
To learn more about Prosperity Candle and engage with us, please visit: http://www.prosperitycandle.com