Natalie Nenly had been working as an Assistant at Beeutiful Creations, a partner of Azizi Life, for just over a year. Earlier this month, she was promoted to the position of Manager, and we’re delighted to share her story with you here:
What is your role at Beeutiful Creations?
My role is to ensure that everything runs smoothly – staff, supplies, the shop, custom orders – everything!
What made you step up and take this role on?
I was happy to take on new responsibilities because I love what I do.
What is your vision for Beeutiful Creations?
I want the social enterprise to grow and be sustainable. I would like to focus more on wholesaling our products to businesses, because that’s working really well, and I’d like to work with more suppliers for beeswax, as well as connect with more boutiques who can showcase our products. We need to keep innovating with different products, so I’d love to grow our team and widen our pool of creative talent.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Beeutiful Creations?
It’s always fun! There’s no time to be bored because we always need to keep creating. There’s a lot of scope for problem-solving which keeps you busy.
What challenges have you faced before getting to this point in your career?
I lacked confidence. I was a bit scared to leave my former job as a biomedical lab technician and go into a completely new area of work because it meant having to learn new things all over again.
Sean Lawson, the founder of Beeutiful Creations, has been really helpful in guiding and training me. He’s been a really good mentor and I’ve always felt like I had a safe space to make mistakes and keep learning, knowing that I have good support. It’s an environment where there is no shame, and I have complete freedom to ask if I need extra support, but also have the freedom to take initiative and bring new ideas to the team.
What interests or excites you about social enterprise, and why do you want to make a social impact through business?
Social enterprise has a purpose that goes beyond making money for the sake of it. I love that I get to make a social impact – to help those less fortunate than myself and to be involved in something that is genuinely improving lives is so satisfying. We’re working with a new group of candle-makers, so lots of training was involved in that and it’s good to see people learning new skills.
Many of the people we work with are those that might have been looked down on in society for not having gone to school – people whose work would be something like cleaning, being a labourer, or cultivating someone’s land. Beeutiful Creations has been able to hire staff who otherwise might have been doing these jobs, and now they can feel proud of themselves for the work they do despite not having finished school. They can feel proud that they are learning to support themselves and their families.
It has also been good to see our beekeeper’s children accompanying them to learn the skills involved in beekeeping, so there is a long-term, perhaps generational impact from this work.
What has working at Beeutiful Creations brought to your life?
Joy! I am so happy and thankful to take on my new role. It has brought joy to me to hear people say that their lives are changing. I’m proud that this business is ‘made in Rwanda’ and happy to be making an impact.
This is a Christian social enterprise – it’s not just about making money; we see this as a community for social and spiritual support as well as economic support. I believe that everything is related to God, so I put God first. We learn so much about teamwork, cooperation, and caring for creation from the little creatures that make this enterprise possible – the bees!
We value listening to people when they have problems and taking the time to pray and share the Bible with them during our weekly Bible study and in staff meetings.
The impact me and the team are making is not just about our own personal development but also about the person down in the village who is struggling, who doesn’t feel like they have opportunities because they didn’t finish school.
What’s important to you in life?
Being happy! Also, my family. I have a small family, which is unusual where I’m from – it’s just me, my mother and my younger brother.
What 3 words would you use to describe Beeutiful Creations?
We work out of the Azizi Life office, and its mostly women who work there. We are like sisters. There is no gossip or jealousy. Everyone is so humble, including Jeannine, the CEO of Azizi Life.
In Rwandan culture it’s typical for people to have huge respect CEOs/Founders and put them on a pedestal, and in turn, for people in these positions to treat themselves as more important than other people and boss them around. Sometimes people don’t realise that Jeannine is the CEO, simply because she doesn’t act like she’s better than and above other people.
Also, I find it funny that when I’m representing Beeutiful Creations at farmer and artisan markets, some people say, “where is your boss”? – because Sean is getting involved in everything and saying to me “you take a break while I do this”. Some people think that bosses don’t act as humble and down to earth as that, so they don’t realise that Sean is the founder of Beeutiful Creations!
At Azizi Life and Beeutiful Creations, everyone treats each other as equals. It makes me so happy and I thank God. I’m so glad that I have greater responsibilities, and I can’t wait to develop and expand this social enterprise.