Siiri Morley is a founding partner of Prosperity Candle, a startup social enterprise that seeks to empower women entrepreneurs in regions impacted by political conflict and natural disaster.
For years my passion has been to help connect female artisans to global markets to help them move out of poverty, transform the lives of their families, and bring real prosperity to their communities.
Prior to my work with Prosperity Candle, I had done some international work in Lesotho in Southern Africa with the Peace Corps, as well as in South America. I had also worked stateside with a major international development group in DC, and with some smaller fair trade groups. I then came to Boston to pursue my MBA at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. It seems ironic now, given that I help run a for-profit social enterprise company, but prior to business school I was always very skeptical how businesses operated in the world. I was the corporate responsibility activist and never imagined I would end up getting an MBA. I was interested in social and environmental justice, and soon began to realize that business tools can be highly relevant, and even crucial, to doing social good
I had known both Amber Chand and Ted Barber for several years, and soon came on as a third partner on their team. Prosperity Candle was founded in 2009.
The mission of Prosperity Candle is to empower women by helping them set up candle-making businesses and providing a direct link to consumers here in the US in search of beautiful, meaningful gifts. We focus on countries and regions suffering from political conflicts and natural disasters. We want to help women earn a fair wage — not just a subsistence wage, but what we call a prosperity wage — while growing their own businesses. We’ve seen time and again how successful female-owned businesses can bring prosperity to entire communities.
We’re only in our second year, so it’s very busy, and there are a lot of startup issues the three of us are constantly tackling. A lot of my work is externally facing; I handle our communications, recruitment, as well as relationship building — working to build capital and board partnerships.
We approached Catchafire because we were interested in learning more about how to use social media to support our business goals. I use social media personally, but wasn’t clear how best to leverage it to help Prosperity Candle create community. Catchafire matched us with Jackie Bivins, a marketing professional with many years of social media experience. Jackie was able to jump right in. She began with an audit, analyzing what we were doing and how it did or didn’t match with our organizational priorities and goals. In the end, Jackie went way beyond the scope of her project, helping us develop relationships with bloggers that will continue to benefit us.
I found it very helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes, someone who really knew what they were doing and could look objectively at Prosperity Candle. When you’re a very small startup, it’s sometimes hard to see things clearly since you’re so embedded in the day to day implementation. It can be immensely helpful to have a trained consultant giving feedback and input. I personally love having more people to work with.
We also found that Jackie became a great brand ambassador for us. I think that’s something that Catchafire creates especially well — relationships that invest the volunteer in the mission during their project, but also long after it’s over. It’s another way to build meaningful support.
We’re now in the midst of our second Catchafire project — this one is also a Social Media campaign, but focused around a specific initiative. We’re launching a campaign called “4,000 Candles for Mother’s Day,” and want to use Facebook and Twitter to create a grassroots sales strategy. So far our volunteer, Lisa, has been great.