Success Story: Madi Lommen, Owner of MadiBanani Bread Company

MyTalk 107.1 Entrepreneur of the Month for November

Like many over-achieving high school students, Madi Lommen’s schedule was jam packed with activities and obligations—three different sports, an array of school-related deadlines and a busy schedule of events with family and friends. On top of it all, Madi also juggled a side project unique from those of any of her classmates: she was a 17-year-old business owner and the youngest entrepreneurial client in WomenVenture’s long history.

It all began when Madi sold her popular banana bread to raise money for a school trip to Thailand. More than 200 loaves later, she was on the ground doing volunteer work in the country and Madi fell in love with its culture and people—particularly the many refugee children she met. Her group encountered an orphanage project that was $10,000 short of completion and she vowed to raise the remaining money needed once they returned home to Minnesota. Madi’s contribution naturally came from continued sales of her banana bread, which prompted her to officially launch her business, Madibanani Bread Company.

While Madi’s efforts were indisputably admirable, traditional banks were not willing to fund the teen's business. That’s where WomenVenture came in—the agency took a chance on Madibanani by helping Madi apply for a micro grant to pay for baking supplies, a contract kitchen and her website. Her WomenVenture business consultant introduced her to a community of independent female business owners with whom she connected after becoming a part of WomenVenture’s client network.

Through Madibanani, Madi learned a lot about entrepreneurship and running a business, but her ultimate goal wasn’t personal wealth; it was to accomplish her company’s mission of "bringing social justice to children around the world." After the Thailand orphanage project had long been completed, Madi continued to send half of her profits there to help with its ongoing expenses. She later expanded her efforts and spent a summer doing volunteer work in Indonesia and recently worked on a project to help children in South Africa.

"Businesses like mine may be untraditional in many ways, but we have an important part to play and, therefore, we deserve a chance at success as well," Madi shared. "WomenVenture is unique in their understanding of that. They have played a critical role in my business, which ultimately has enabled me to make the kind of impact I want to have on the world."