Theresa Ann Carrington
Doctor of Humanities
In 2004, Theresa Carrington set out to address the issue of extreme poverty. Growing up in poverty in the Midwest, Mrs. Carrington drew upon her life experiences to develop innovative approaches to ending poverty. Fifteen years later, Mrs. Carrington and her team have discovered a formula that sustainably ends poverty.
This formula has been successfully replicated in eight developing nations, reignited more than 65 local economies across three continents and positively impacted the lives of more than 8,000 people and 32,000 of their family members.
Mrs. Carrington was inspired to start her organization after experiencing a life-altering crisis. Friends, family and strangers showered her with cards and letters of support. Placing the cards in a basket, Mrs. Carrington returned to the basket daily reading the cards and letters and finding strength to face the next day.
Calling it her “Blessing Basket,” Mrs. Carrington began speaking to women’s groups about overcoming struggle, and as women wanted to purchase one of their own, The Blessing Basket Project® was born. The objective was to help artisans sustainably exit extreme poverty.
Over the last 15 years, Mrs. Carrington and her team discovered the tipping point from extreme poverty to prosperity came when an artisan sold ten products a month at Prosperity Wages for three years. In 2018, The Blessing Basket Project name was changed to Ten by Three®, the formula Mrs. Carrington and her team discovered ends poverty.
Mrs. Carrington’s unique models and processes have proven so successful in Northern Ghana that in 2016 she was installed as the Queen Mother of Development in the Nyariga/Zaare traditional area. This title means Mrs. Carrington is responsible for the economic development of over 20,000 people on their journey out of poverty.
In 2016, Ten by Three was one of only ten nonprofits in the world honored by the United Nations for the innovative way the organization brings cultures together through its Artisan&You® platform. Artisan&You is the world’s largest artisan engagement platform and allows consumers to connect with the artisan who made their products. Despite language and technology barriers, Ten by Three even figured out how to empower customers and artisans to exchange letters.
To date, the organization has created more than 300,000 human connection opportunities and thousands of letters have been exchanged between customers and artisans.
Mrs. Carrington says her positive impact on tens of thousands of lives would not have been possible without a great team and the students and faculty of Washington University.
In 2004, she sought the expertise of Washington University students in the Olin Business School and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, who helped shape her vision into a solid business plan.
That same year, the organization won the Olin Cup entrepreneurship competition, the first nonprofit to enter, and received seed funding to accelerate its growth.
Mrs. Carrington’s Prosperity Wage® model was also defined with the help of Washington University students. Prosperity Wages guarantees artisans are paid directly at least 2.5 times fair trade, eliminating the middleman. The artisans are required to start at least three businesses with their Prosperity Wages, sustainably lifting them out of poverty. Ten by Three’s Graduate from Poverty model will soon be replicated in three more countries.
Mrs. Carrington is a regular guest lecturer at Washington University and has successfully mentored dozens of social entrepreneurs from the Skandalaris Center and the Brown School.
Among her honors, in 2008, Mrs. Carrington received the prestigious St. Louis Award. In 2013, she was named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women and a YWCA Nonprofit Leader of Distinction. By 2015, Mrs. Carrington was listed as one of the 100 most influential women by Empowering a Billion Women by 2020.
Before starting her nonprofit organization, she was a journalist for more than 20 years, winning 13 Mid-America Emmy Awards, along with multiple national and regional honors.
Mrs. Carrington is also the author of a children’s book, “When Cows Eat Flowers,” published in 2015 and illustrated by her mother, Beth Van Natta.
Mrs. Carrington is married to Joe Carrington and lives in Edwardsville, Illinois. Her children, Jennifer and Joshua, serve in the United States Navy.