Virtuous Bread aims to make it fun and easy for people around the world to buy, make, learn about, share and eat good bread. This allows a link to be created between eating good bread and doing good things. As Jane Mason, founder and director of Virtuous Bread states, "bread is used as a catalyst for social change." She achieves this by teaching bread making courses, helping organize home and community bread baking businesses, and baking with various groups such as disadvantaged youth, prisoners, elderly, and business executives in order to bring people together around the table and find common grounds through the bread making experience.
Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management
On her mission to change the world, Jane Mason quickly realized that she could not be successful at the magnitude that her vision required. Thus, she developed the Bread Angel's Program within Virtuous Bread which "teaches people how to teach people how to bake." With the success of Virtuous Bread, Mason saw an opportunity for her students to network with each other and meet new people in their communities and beyond that were as passionate about making bread and changing the world. Her ambition with the Bread Angel's Program is to empower individuals to run their very own home baking businesses. The Bread Angel's Program is a 3-day course on how to set up a micro-bakery. The 3-day course teaches Bread Angels sales and marketing - essentially how to start and run their own business.
There are several advantages to participating in the Bread Angel's Program. Trained Bread Angels are able to work from home, make good bread and make their products available for sale in their local communities. One success of the program has been that the majority of individuals who participate in the course feel empowered to set up an active micro-bakery. Bread Angels are also able to build relationships in their communities by making connections with people and other businesses. The Bread Angel's Program is also able to provide good quality bread in areas where there may be food deserts and good quality foods may not be available. By participating in the Bread Angel's Program, Bread Angels gain access to the large and growing community of other supportive Bread Angels that can share their experiences, business ideas, recipes, and connect locally and globally. Bread Angels are also trained to run the 3-day Bread Angel's Program to teach others how to bake good bread.
Like many business school students, after completing her MBA, Jane Mason went to work for financial services as a successful consultant. During my interview with Mason, she stated that she "believed her purpose as a good consultant was to create better companies, create more responsible companies, help executives make better decisions, be better leaders and become better people. Make no mistake, I woke up every day to change the world." As a consultant, she was mitigating at the corporate level. After the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Mason observed her world take a turn for the worse. She observed her colleagues, business partners, and friends become greedy, angry, fearful, isolated, and over extended. Channeling the financial crisis of 2008-2009 as inspiration, Mason realized how disconnected individuals become disconnected to the land, food, and each other. Rather than trying to change the world at the corporate level, she decided to focus her energy at the level of the individual and thus, Virtuous Bread was born.
Jane Mason's vision of a better world is through kindness. She strongly believes "kindness as a virtue is all about the behavior that we see, experience or live. When we are forgiving, we allow ourselves to have positive and progressive relationships." With Virtuous Bread, Mason is trying to move the conversation forward through virtuous acts. She also believes apologies and forgiveness are important and relevant in every aspect of our life and it is also true for business. Virtuous Bread creates societal benefit by spending a portion of the time in prisons, primary schools, and elderly homes by allowing these connections to develop and allow the space for kindness, forgiveness, and virtue.
The overall impact of Virtuous Bread is to make it fun, easy, and accessible to learn how to make and share good bread, sell good bread, and get information about bread. Virtuous Bread is about making choices, empowering entrepreneurship by teaching others how to bake good bread, and encouraging others to start teaching and potentially earn additional income. Virtuous Bread allows for economic growth and provides employment opportunities. There is also emphasis on sustainability by using responsibly grown grain and selling the bread within a 1 mile radius. This allows for a low carbon footprint for a business. More importantly, it enables people to make connections within their communities.
Part of the Virtuous Bread business model, particularly the Bread Angel's Program, charges a 15% fee over the Bread Angel's subscription fee per year. This is solely for the low cost of maintaining the organization. The cost of running a business selling good bread is low. The funds are used to support the courses and help other bread angels in need as necessary. There are no contracts between Virtuous Bread and Bread Angels because Jane Mason believes "the program is self-selecting." Individuals who choose to participate in the Bread Angel's program have a serious desire to commit to the program. Virtuous Bread has grown exponentially since it's inception in 2010. There are over 200 trained bread angels. Sixty bread angels are actively pursuing business endeavors and contributing to their community in a meaningful way. The program also currently has 12 active trainers who run the Bread Angel's Program themselves.
The greatest impact Virtuous Bread has had on society is that it inspires individuals to gain a skill that they can turn into a source of livelihood. This is a significant potential to grow into a flourishing business model, not only because it is profitable but furthermore, creates good in society.
Virtuous Bread meets the second UN Global Goal of Zero Hunger because it provides an opportunity to achieve food security and improve communities nutrition. By empowering individuals within a community to learn how to bake bread and sell the product within a community, it helps ensure access to good bread by all people. If this is done in disadvantaged communities, which, many Bread Angels do, the program helps to end hunger for the poor and individuals in vulnerable circumstances. Furthermore, Virtuous Bread encourages Bread Angels to use high-quality ingredients from their local farms, which also helps meet the UN Global Goal by increasing agricultural productivity and small-scale food producers such as family farmers.
Virtuous Bread meets the third UN Global Goal of Good Health & Well-Being because it promotes a healthy lifestyle and well-being for all at all ages. The range of age groups that are part of the Bread Angel's Program is truly inspiring. There are students, entrepreneurs, senior citizens, and everyone else in between that feel inspired to learn how to bake good bread and connect with their communities.
Virtuous Bread meets the eighth UN Global Goal of Decent Work and Economic Growth because Bread Angels learn the skill of good bread making which they then can turn into a profitable business. Bread Angels are taught to take care and pride in the bread they produce because it sustains a healthy life. It is essentially a life source for many across the globe. There is a large potential for sustainable economic growth in applying the Virtuous Bread business model Jane Mason has established. In it's essence, the Bread Angel's program is development oriented and supports the productive activity of making bread. It complements this UN Global Goal because it creates a decent job, "promotes entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation, and encourages the formalization and growth of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises."
Jane Mason, Founder & Director
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Business Website: http://www.virtuousbread.com/
Year Founded: 2010
Number of Employees: 2 to 10