“We believe every product is an opportunity to help make the world a better place.” Prosperity Candle is seizing the opportunity to make a positive difference in the world by being a low-profit LLC with the highest priority of serving their corporate mission. According to Co-Founder Ted Barber, they have “prioritized social good over all else. Not only do we actually adhere to this, we are legally bound in creating positive change because our highest priority—written in our bylaws—is social responsibility, changing lives for the better. We created our business around this principle.”
Prosperity Candle officially began in 2010 with the idea of creating a business to help women to earn a living wage in war-torn areas of the globe. They began in Baghdad, to many nay-sayers telling them they cannot do commerce in war-torn areas. In fact, they were awarded second prize in a competition of businesses that do good for their communities and were told they didn’t win first prize because their plan to ship from Baghdad was unrealistic. Two weeks after winning second prize they shipped from Baghdad.
They started out training women in Iraq how to make candles along with the “how-tos” of shipping and customer service. They intentionally wanted to train the artisans to be independent businesswomen, so they were not dependent on Prosperity Candle for their livelihood. Prosperity Candle gave the women artisans the option of continuing to work with Prosperity Candle or selling their products to local markets, opening up options for the artisans that they hadn’t dreamed of before. Today they work with 100 artisans in Baghdad and about twelve in Haiti, which was their second location of training after the earthquake. In addition, they employ eight employees in Western Massachusetts, all of whom are refugees from Burma and Bhutan. “Living wage” in Massachusetts means double the minimum wage, which currently is $10/hour.
They turned retail business on its head by investing in their people and their customer service, and letting marketing take care of itself.