Edit ModuleShow Tags

Women's Bean Project: 30 years of finding self-sufficiency in a pot of soup

The Women’s Bean Project in Denver has helped more than 1,000 women break the cycle of poverty through employment


Published:

In 1989, Jossy Eyre invested $500 of her own money to help women find self-sufficiency by making and selling a simple bean soup mix. It worked then — and it’s still working today.

In the last 30 years, the Women’s Bean Project in Denver has helped more than 1,000 women break the cycle of poverty through employment.

“What we've been able to do is take all these aspects of what it means to run a business, but have the business have a purpose,” CEO Tamra Ryan says.  

Each year, the project employs 60 to 70 women and distributes its products — which have expanded from bean soup into dog treats, spice blends, popcorn and more — to more than 1,000 stores and online retailers across the country.

The nonprofit conducts outreach in the city’s treatment programs, halfway houses, correction centers and shelters, but most are referred by past employees. 

The women in the program generally haven’t held a job for more than a year due to incarceration, addiction or lack of child care or education, among other things, Ryan says. “The one thing I've learned is that barriers never happen singularly. There's not just one challenge that somebody has to overcome in order to move to mainstream employment. It's always complicated and interwoven.”

Women spend six to nine months in the program working in the food manufacturing business, making and packing all the products they sell. At the same time, they participate in classes and programming to gain career and life skills that will lead to gainful employment. 

Some 70% of the women graduate from the program, and a year later, 95% are still employed. 

“We're teaching people to work by actually working, so the women are an integral part of our business and helping us make the product and get the product out the door,” Ryan says. “Our ability to deliver on our mission is based on our ability to sell our products.”

Edit Module
Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

Get more content like this: Subscribe to the magazine | Sign up for our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Colorado Companies Leading Surge in Health Care M&A

While Colorado is generally known for snowy peaks, great microbrews and, in recent years, a budding marijuana industry, Fortune 500 mainstays like UnitedHealth Group are finding that the state is also ripe for life sciences transactions.

Building the brand that is Jennifer Kupcho

The 22-year old golfer, Jennifer Kupcho, shares her journey from Westminster's Ranch Country Club to playing in 19 professional tournaments on the LPGA Tour, in which she made more money than all but 38 players. And now, she's gearing up to play in 26 tournaments.

6 Questions with Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee Velveta Golightly-Howell

Throughout her career, working at the local, state, regional and federal levels, Howell has become a role model for other African American women and girls. Currently, she serves as one of twelve appointees to the Robert Wood Johnson-funded Colorado Healthcare Reform Executive Steering Committee and Turning Point Initiative.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags