It is a sunny Wednesday afternoon in a small village on the outskirts of Khulna, Bangladesh.
Today is a day of celebration, and the kids are stealing the show. Dressed in their best sarees, 45 of their mothers and aunties line both sides of a small stone path. They anxiously await the arrival of Ten by Three Founder® Theresa Carrington. As Theresa arrives, the women shower her with marigold petals to warmly welcome her to their small village.
Today Ten by Three is officially sharing the details of its Graduate From Poverty Program. The women have been waiting for more than two months for the opportunity to join the organization.
Theresa begins a speech she has given more than 100 times. Being a Blessing Basket Project artisan is hard. It requires a commitment to become an entrepreneur and start three businesses separate from their handicraft. Artisans must also produce high-quality products on deadline. “We are all in this together, and we will train you. We work as hard as you work.” Theresa says. “You make the highest quality products in the world and we will pay you more than anyone in the world for them.” Ten by Three currently pays artisans in Bangladesh seven times fair trade for their products. The women learn they are required to invest part of their Prosperity Wages into at least three income producing activities. Theresa explains these entrepreneurial endeavors will provide the long-term income to lift them out of poverty sustainably. She also reminds them this opportunity has a time limit. Only 4 years. The women begin to come to grips with the enormity of the possibility and the work ahead. Exit poverty in 4 years? That would require business risk, hard work, and present many unknown challenges. Theresa goes on to tell the hopeful applicants, “Unless you truly desire to exit poverty through trust, transparency, hard work and entrepreneurship, you should leave this meeting.” Ten women leave.
Those who remain spend the next hour asking dozens of questions. They learn the organization will connect them directly with their customers through the organization’s award-winning technology, Artisan&You®. The women chatter with excitement. To be empowered to talk directly with the person buying their products is something they had never experienced before. Theresa and her on-ground Bangladeshi team begin carefully screening each applicate using the organizations patent-pending Artisan Selector.
Before the day is over 20 women are registered and paid Prosperity Wages for products they have produced in faith that they would be accepted into the program. As Prosperity Wages began flowing, the dancing started. With the cooperation of a nearby shop, the new enrollees blasted music and cut loose. They were ready to face the next four years head-on. They were ready to become entrepreneurs. They were ready to afford an education for their kids most of them never received. They were ready to sustainably exit poverty through a partnership with Ten by Three.
Every time you buy a Blessing Basket product, you are empowering an entrepreneur on their journey out of poverty.
We trust this blog inspires you. As we enter 2018 we hope the bravery of our women in Bangladesh dare you to take risks, step into the challenge, and dance like no one is watching.