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Shea Yeleen Founder Inspires Through Efforts to Create Economic Stability for Women Around the World
Rahama Wright founded Shea Yeleen—a health and beauty company dedicated to empowering women in West Africa and the United States through the production, sale, and use of shea butter products—about 15 years ago. But since then, Shea Yeleen has taken a significantly different shape.
What originally started as a nonprofit has since transformed into a social enterprise business model. Wright made this transition about six years ago. From that turning point, you can now find Shea Yeleen’s shea butter products in Whole Foods and MGM Resorts, and they have been featured in O, The Washington Post, MSNBC, and more.
Wright shares her truthful and insightful reflections on what has contributed to her staying power and her endurance in what can be an experience filled with such trials and tribulations, and the lessons she has extracted from this 15-year journey. We tend to glorify these kinds of experiences, but we found that Wright was more honest than most in discussing both the positive and negative aspects of her journey with this company. And that’s what we loved so much about our conversation.
In this episode of the Grow Ensemble Podcast, we discuss Shea Yeleen’s beginnings as a nonprofit, how and why Wright made the decision to convert the business into a social impact for-profit model instead, her honest reflections on the intense 15-year road she’s traveled, and some tips on traveling and staying power as a business.
Interested in more episodes focused on transitioning into a for-profit social enterprise? Listen to:
- #29 — Transitioning From a Traditional Business to a Social Enterprise, with Bernie Geiss, Founder of Cove Continuity Advisors
- #51 — Leveraging Marketing Dollars for Social Good with Doug Lessing, Founder of Phin
- #13 — Is Profit or Purpose The Key To A Successful Social Enterprise? A Conversation With Paul Hargreaves CEO of Cotswold Fayre
Looking for a job where you can put your talents to work making the world a better place? Search for a meaningful job on B Work, the largest impact-only job search platform.
A few standout takeaways from our chat with Wright:
- How Shea Yeleen transitioned from a nonprofit to a social enterprise.
- The understandings Wright gained from the community she worked with in Ghana.
- The value and necessity of endurance and persistence in social entrepreneurship.
- Why all entrepreneurs should be social entrepreneurs.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
A 15-Year Journey in Entrepreneurism and Women’s Empowerment was originally published in B The Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.