From Nonprofit to Social Enterprise: Insights & Lessons Learned on a 15 Year Entrepreneurial Journey
with Rahama Wright, Founder of Shea Yeleen
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 in 2005. However, since then, Shea Yeleen has certainly taken a significantly different shape from how it originally was incepted.
After at first starting a nonprofit, Rahama has since transformed Shea Yeleen into a social enterprise business model. Rahama 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.
It was excellent to hear Rahama share 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 what lessons she has extracted from this 15-year journey.
We tend to glorify these kinds of experiences, but we found that Rahama 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 with her.
In this episode, we discuss Shea Yeleen’s beginnings as a nonprofit, how and why Rahama made the decision to convert the business into a social impact for-profit model instead; her honest reflections on this intense 15-year journey of entrepreneurship she’s been on; and some wise tips on both traveling and staying power as a business.
Want more episodes focused on transitioning into a for-profit social enterprise? Listen to:
Founder & CEO Rahama with a few products from the Shea Yeleen line. All products are organic, fair trade, and support women’s micro-enterprise development globally.
“Even though it is so important to have access to capital, to markets, and have a great social media, and have great marketing. Yes, those are all really important aspects of running a successful business. But at the end of the day, what you need more than anything else is great people and really having a great team, and folks who will support you and help you and get behind your mission and vision. If you don’t have that, none of that other stuff really matters.” -Rahama Wright
- The transition of Shea Yeleen from a nonprofit to a social enterprise
- The understandings Rahama 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
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