This Social Enterprise Makes Chili To Make An Impact
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The Women’s Bean Project doesn’t just make chili, it makes a difference. It also makes a variety of other products, many that feature beans. The nonprofit doesn’t exist to make its products, it works to change the lives of the women who make them.
Tamra Ryan, CEO, and Miranda Zamora, a production supervisor, joined me to talk about the program’s products and its impact. Miranda is a prime example of the life-changing impact of the work at the Women’s Bean Project.
Miranda came to work there a bit over two years ago with the encouragement of a case manager. She has four kids, the youngest of whom is now two years old. She was completely lacking in self-confidence and hadn’t finished high school.
She flourished in the program, overcoming challenges with transportation and daycare to become a dependable employee. When she was ready to graduate from the program, a permanent position came open as a supervisor and she was offered the position.
Now six months into her tenure as a boss, she’s helping other women—many of whom have a history of incarceration, drug abuse and/or homelessness—build self-confidence and job skills so they can achieve their full potential.
Interview with Tamra Ryan, the CEO of Women’s Bean Project.
The following is the pre-interview with Tamra Ryan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit
Revenue model: Revenue is generated from sale of the products packaged by Women’s Bean Project and from grants and donations.
Scale: each year Women’s Bean Project hires 60-70 women to participate in the program. Annual revenue is $2.2M.
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
Women’s Bean Project offers a public way to address chronic unemployment, recidivism, welfare dependency and a host of other challenges. The social enterprise model gives Women’s Bean Project a sustainable way to achieve its mission.
Over the course of our 6-9 month program, each woman earns a steady paycheck and receives support services to overcome barriers to employment through job readiness, interpersonal and life skills needed to become self-sufficient in the workplace and community. As a result – it ushers women with significant barriers into the economic mainstream.
More about Women’s Bean Project:
Women’s Bean Project believes all women have the power to transform their lives through employment. So we hire women who are chronically unemployed and we teach them to work by making nourishing products. They learn to stand tall, find their purpose and break the cycle of poverty. Because when you change a woman’s life, you change her family’s life.
Tamra Ryan and Miranda Zamora. Photo Credit: Women’s Bean Project
Miranda Zamora’s bio:
Miranda was hired at Women’s Bean Project in March 2017 to participate in the program. As a program participant she stood out for her hard work and reliability. When it was time for Miranda to graduate from the program, the Bean Project team couldn’t bear to say farewell so she was offered the position of Production Assistant. Today Miranda trains our entry-level production staff to produce gourmet food products while teaching fundamental entry-level job readiness skills and proper workplace norms by serving as a role model to the women while helping them achieve daily and weekly goals. She ensures that all products, equipment, materials, and weights are accurate, that production is on schedule, and that quality control standards are consistently maintained while overseeing daily production of multiple products at one time. With this opportunity to shine, Miranda has proven that she is worthy of a second chance.
Tamra Ryan’s bio:
Tamra Ryan is the CEO of Women’s Bean Project, a social enterprise that provides transitional employment, while operating a food manufacturing business, to women attempting to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty. Tamra is a former partner and board member for Social Venture Partners-Denver, currently chairs the Board of Directors for the Social Enterprise Alliance and is on the advisory board for the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at the University of Denver. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) recognized Tamra’s servant leadership and entered it into the Congressional Record of the 115th Congress, Second Session in May 2018. She was honored by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado and is part of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Leadership Network. She was a presenter at TEDxMilehigh and is a highly sought-after speaker for topics such as compassionate leadership and social enterprise. Tamra is the author of The Third Law, a book which highlights the societal obstacles and internal demons that must be overcome for marginalized women to change their lives. The Third Law has won numerous awards for women/minorities in business and social activism. She is currently working on her second book, Followship: How to be a leader worth following.
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