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Promoting women’s economic empowerment

Enactus team partners with local bakery to improve business

<p>The Women's Economic and Empowerment team of Enactus, a business CIO, has partnered with local bakery Stevie G's to improve its business model. </p>

The Women's Economic and Empowerment team of Enactus, a business CIO, has partnered with local bakery Stevie G's to improve its business model. 

Second-year College students Hartini Lestari, Pooja Ranganathan and Lexi Schubert are promoting the professional and personal growth of women through Enactus — a business CIO working to solve Charlottesville’s social and economic problems.

As part of the Enactus’ Women’s Economic Empowerment team, the three students have partnered with Charlottesville-based bakery Stevie G’s, run by sisters Sue Gass and Stephanie White, to advance the idea of women as entrepreneurs.

The team formed their partnership with the bakery through Investment Collaborative, a non-profit which brings together community resources and educational support in ways specific to local businesses. The partnership has been beneficial for both the students and the business owners, Lestari said.

“Working with a local business not only helps grow local economies, but [also] allows us to build personal relationships with the owners,” Lestari said.

Gass and White run their bakery, selling gluten-free products to distributors including local grocery stores, markets and cafes.

Lestari, Ranganathan and Schubert have worked to increase Stevie G’s presence on Grounds by identifying the best locations for the bakery’s products. So far, goods have been sold at West Range Cafe, Crossroads and Wilsdorf Cafe.

The project provides students with the unique opportunity to incorporate classroom learning into a tangible initiative.

“We have all taken economic classes, but applying the concepts is a completely different experience,” Ranganathan said.

The team also worked on advertising for the business by developing a website, posting flyers around Grounds and establishing a social media presence. To achieve their goal of streamlining finances, the girls wrote a report examining the bakery’s relationship to local competitors and compiled strategies to maintain competitiveness.

The group members said watching their efforts on the project come to fruition is the most rewarding part of participating in Enactus.

“The one-on-one experience and making a real impact was my favorite part,” Lestari said. “It was fun to see how your work translated for a business, such as the website.”

The group won a $1,500 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation, which they utilized for the expenses of their project. They plan to submit an impact report as a part of a national competition among recipients of the grant to assess their effectiveness at developing a local business.

With the group’s two-year relationship with Stevie G’s coming to an end, Schubert wants to continue bringing attention to the experiences of women in the workplace by reaching out to different groups at the University.


“I want to continue raising the importance of women's economic empowerment at the University through the University Women's Forum, an organization which discusses the dynamics between women in the workplace and family,” Schubert said.

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