Four years ago we set out to build businesses in Africa for poverty stricken women. We had three major goals.
- Create locally (African) owned businesses that provide lucrative careers, resulting in income and dignity.
- Set a higher standard and example of a quality products and a preferred brand.
- To do it all so well that it attracted more outside investors to do business in Africa as well.
Now we’ve created a solid business in Rwanda, fully owned and operated by Rwandans. But in the US we are still a non-profit. As a non-profit, we are unlike a business in that we are not subject to profit and loss. Therefore, anytime we (or the Rwandan business) make a mistake, we just buffer it with donor funding. Therefore, we are not a business, and we have failed to achieve goal #3.
What is the #1 focus of a business owner? Profit. We can’t simply remove the most fundamental facet of a business and still claim we are a business. If we don’t make a profit, we have failed.
I’ve filed the paperwork and KEZA will officially be a for-profit organization starting January 2010. It’s our responsibility to push the envelope and now we’ve got to kick the training wheels off and do this for real.