By Amy Yanda-Lee
Milly Nakayi sells peas, and so did I. I grew up in a small Wisconsin town and my family has long been in the food business. My Dad grew up on the family farm, working so hard for hours each morning as a young boy before walking to school. After marrying my mom, he joined the family business on her side of the family – Lakeside Foods. Dad would come home with fresh vegetables and it was the best. In fact, it was so great that at five years old, I decided to create my own little business by selling peas door-to-door. My Dad wasn’t thrilled when I’d gone missing and he found me knocking on all of the neighbors’ doors with coins in my hand.
More than 30 years later, I visited Uganda and met Milly, who had gone through BeadforLife’s business training and created a vegetable selling business. The item she was most famous for?….fresh peas. Milly’s story peaked my interest, as she works in the wee hours of the morning to make sure her vegetable stall and fresh peas are ready for her customers every day. She also has the big dream of investing in farmland, so she can grow more vegetables to support her business. Milly, like so many of the women we work with, wants to work harder. She dreams of growing her business with the knowledge and tools she gained through our entrepreneurial training. This stellar work ethic is something that BeadforLife was founded upon. We don’t believe in handouts, but a hand-up.
“Give a woman a fish and she eats for a day. Teach a woman to fish and she feeds the whole village for a lifetime.”
Women want to feel the pride in their own hard work and have a sense of purpose. I am so proud of the women we serve. When I got to visit Milly in Uganda in 2012, it was a career highlight. Seeing her standing up on the stoop of her business and selling her peas, she glowed like a celebrity to me. This moment exemplified the true connection we make to the women we work with. When I dream big about BeadforLife, I dream about how we will reach 1 million Millys through Street Business School whose lives will be forever changed through the power of their own hard work. These women radiate hope, resilience and brilliance around the businesses they create, often times from literally nothing. They become resourceful, they become confident and they are empowered. Together, we have the power to empower through selling beautiful, handcrafted jewelry that helps women in Uganda support their families. Join us!