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Women in Power

Spotlight On: Roxanne Joyal

CEO, ME to WE,
Part of The WE Organization

WE believes that educating and empowering girls can help end the cycle of poverty. Can you tell us why?

"We believe that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty, be it a man or a woman. But when it comes to women, education empowers them to develop their voice and define their future socio-economically. Every dollar that a woman earns goes towards the development of her children, her family and her community. We have seen this time and again, be it the mamas in Kenya or the women farmers who grow ME to WE’s life-changing chocolate and coffee. When you educate and support a woman, you are paving the way for the development of a community – this is why empowering women is a key focus for us."

What inspired you to work in the non-profit/social good space?

"My work in Kenya started very early on as a teenager, but really blossomed into ME to WE Artisans in 2007 when I was on my honeymoon with my husband, Marc. I was gifted a stunning collection of beaded wedding collars by a large group of Maasai warriors. I had always marveled at the artistry of the mamas and had long aspired to help them find a broader market for their work, and now with my own treasured collection of beads, I revisited that plan and formed ME to WE Artisans. Today, that one small step of adapting their skill and product for a broader market has flourished into ME to WE, the social enterprise that provides socially conscious products and experiences that change lives, and allows the local consumer to do good while making everyday spending choices. We now have over 1800 women who work with us to create our ethically sourced products."

Why is mentorship so important in empowering young women?

"Women in leadership roles is still a new phenomena. As more women grow into leadership roles within organizations, it’s crucial to keep the trend going. Empowering women around the world with opportunities to become leaders is a cause dear to me and the fact that ME to WE has been built up by the incredible women I work with makes it even more deeply meaningful. At WE, female executives, department heads and directors make up 84% of our leadership, and it gives me such joy to have a team of empowered women who are empowering women around the world every single day."

How is WE making a significant social impact?

At WE , we believe in making doing good, doable. WE is made up of WE Charity, empowering domestic and international change, ME to WE, a social enterprise that creates socially conscious products and experiences that help support the charity and enable people to change lives through their everyday choices, and WE Day, filling stadiums around the world with the greatest celebration of social good.

In the past 25 years, WE’s international programs have empowered over one million people with clean water, built 1,500 schools and schoolrooms overseas, and empowered more than 200,000 children with access to education. Domestically in North America, the Caribbean and the UK, WE has enabled young people and families to better the world by supporting more than 7,200 local and global causes by volunteering millions of hours, shopping daily with an impact, and raising millions of pounds that directly benefit their local communities and the world.

How is WE taking an innovative approach to collaborations and partnerships in order to reach the next generation of social leaders?

Age doesn’t determine what one person can achieve - we see more and more young people building and leading companies, non-profits and social enterprises. Millennials and GenZ, who are newly entering the workforce, want to find purpose within a brand as a given and not a special trait. This group seeks to find genuine experiences and wants authenticity from brands. This is why we are focused on creating impact products and experiences that make doing good, doable and easy. We focus on re-investing proceeds of each sale towards the development of the communities that we work with. What is also unique to ME to WE is the opportunity to track where the impact of each product purchase is delivered through the unique Track Your Impact code. Our partnerships are not based on hand-outs and donations alone; they function primarily by allowing the consumer to do good and feel good about being able to help create a better world. We engage our partners and the partner workforce in a way that lets them witness the impact of our work first-hand; we try and immerse them in the local culture of the communities that we work in. This allows our partners to understand the depth of the work we do and then to find a space in the bracket of brands with a purpose, helping support these communities in a sustainable manner.

"We believe in making doing good doable. Most businesses are now veering towards being socially conscious and the way forward in the 21st century certainly looks at creating businesses that serve a larger purpose."