Theresa Wilson & The Skandalaris Center

Inspiring Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Theresa Wilson considers herself an ordinary person, who embarked on an extraordinary journey known as The Blessing Basket Project®. Founded in 2003 as a social enterprise, The Blessing Basket Project enables artisans in seven nations to build self-sustaining businesses from funds they earn through the organization's unique financial model.

Wilson’s fledgling enterprise enjoyed early and remarkable success but she needed help in building a sustainable foundation. In 2004, she sought the expertise of Washington University students at the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, who helped to shape her vision into a solid business plan. That same year, The Blessing Basket Project won the Olin Cup competition and received seed funding to accelerate its growth.

Impressed by the project, Washington University trustee and benefactor Bob Skandalaris also helped fund the project with a significant grant from the Skandalaris Family Foundation.

Wilson’s powerful story began with a life-changing event. Sympathetic supporters sent cards and letters to cheer her up, which she put in a simple basket. Wanting to pay forward what others had done for her, Theresa identified artisans in underdeveloped countries, eliminated the middleman and began paying them more than anyone in the world for their products, which she packaged and shipped to U.S. stores. Her financial model would eventually become known as the Prosperity Wage®. Today, The Blessing Basket Project works with 2,000 artisans in Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Kenya to produce unique artisan products which are sold throughout the United States.

Working together, Washington University students continue to develop innovative companies and social enterprises that provide help to people in need, and hope for a brighter future at home and throughout the world.

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