Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

The Entrepreneurship Speaker Series hosted Melissa Sevy on Tuesday Feb 12.

Sevy, is a social entrepreneur and a Co-Founder at Fair Kind, a humanitarian organization as well as a founder of Mussana International, an organization focused on empowering women.

Sevy’s entrepreneurship journey began in 2009 a few days after she graduated from BYU, while working for a non-profit called HELP International in Uganda.

During her time in Uganda, she noticed that there was a cycle of poverty that extended beyond single generations. There were single mothers who had to look for daily jobs just to be able to have food on the table that night.

Sevy saw a need for change and her solution was jewelry.

After returning the states she started working on what would soon be known as Musana International. Musana International trains Ugandan artisans in crafting jewelry that is then sold in America. The profits are returned to the artisans to provide stable income.

“Thats [the] core of our business, providing jobs,” said Sevy.

Musana International started with 7 artisans in 2009 and as of 2018 has grown to over 300 artisans and is supporting over 1,000 children.

Sevy is proud of the program’s success but has encountered many challenges along the way.

“I feel like I would do you a disservice if I made ‘the yellow brick road’ presentation that makes [my journey] look like it was easy…but it’s been more like, multiple times, feeling like the road fell out from under me and [I wasn’t] sure where to go next.”

Over the course of a decade, Sevy experienced highs and lows that led her to where she is. At times she would do what she called, ‘side hustles’ just to help keep the business afloat.

Her side hustles included teaching dance, running dogs, selling her sewing machine and donating plasma.

“I freaking gave plasma when I was 28 and like, you can give plasma when you are a college student and it’s fine. But well, when you are 28 years old with a masters degree…I would go at 6 a.m hoping I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. And well, that is just part of my story.”

Through her successes and failures, Sevy found out that the key to running a good business comes down to relationships..

“As much as you can do with cool marketing, especially in business, it is all about relationships- you can take that down to the individual customer as well. It’s all about relationships.”

The Entrepreneurship Speaker Series is held every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

Story by: Cassidy Harmon
Photo Credit: Christopher Dimond