We began this journey back in 2009 in Iraq at a time when bombings were a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence in Baghdad. Having worked in poverty alleviation and conflict countries for decades, we set out to support women artisan-entrepreneurs, and after years of brainstorming came upon candle-making as the ideal enterprise.
Following a year of workshops, developing training materials, creating our own “business-in-a-box” for shipment to Iraq, and traveling to Istanbul to teach candle-making to Iptesam – the first Iraqi woman we would work with - handmade pillar candles began to arrive at New York’s JFK airport on April 10, 2010... just in time for Mother’s Day.
You can read The Full Story of how we got started – missteps and all.
Since then we have worked with over 50 Iraqi women and supported a hundred more, most of whom are war widows. Our sister nonprofit, Prosperity Catalyst, has now taken over and is expanding the program north into the Kurdish region.