Sseko Designs is built on the conviction that good business can be a powerful force for positive social change. It designs, sources and markets sandals and other handcrafted items made and sometimes co-designed by Ugandan women who otherwise would face lives of poverty. The products then are sold by Sseko Fellows during home parties or by independent salespeople to socially conscious U.S. retail outlets.
EMPLOYED WOMEN IN UGANDA
EMPLOYED WOMEN IN PORTLAND
Sseko Designs meets the needs of:
Handcrafted fashion items are tools the company uses to help create a brighter, more beautiful world.
“Sseko also won the JumpStart competition, through which interactive advertising agency Blue Collar gives an emerging company $100,000 in website redesign and digital marketing services.”
Sseko has grown by engaging employees and consumer in authentic ways:
Bohannon spreads the Sseko message by speaking to community groups and was chosen to appear on a 2015 episode of “Shark Tank.” The sharks did not fund Sseko, but the publicity led to full funding from other investors.
Sseko also won the JumpStart competition, through which interactive advertising agency Blue Collar gives an emerging company $100,000 in website redesign and digital marketing services.
Bohannon is sharpening the company’s marketing message to increase product demand so she can expand product-manufacturing capacity in Uganda, set an industry standard and become the country’s largest employer of women. In addition to Uganda, she now is launching product lines in Kenya and Ethiopia with the hope of using fashion to solve problems worldwide. She believes Sseko will grow if she focuses on the wellbeing of women.
“FastTrac helped me build a strong business foundation on which my dreams of empowering African women can grow. It gave me tools and encouragement that empower me to empower others, and introduced me to valuable tools and relationships that helped get our business off the ground.”
Course: FastTrac NewVenture
Affiliate: UMKC Small Business and Technology Development
Sseko is an ethical fashion brand that works to educate and empower women. By providing employment and educational opportunities, Sseko enables women to continue their education and become leaders in their country. In four years, Sseko has grown from three women making sandals together under a mango tree, to an international fashion brand that provides employee and educational opportunities and entrepreneurial training to over 50 women in East Africa.
Using her unlikely sorry of a journalist-gone-shoe-maker, Liz shares her passion for social enterprise, conscious consumerism social justice, creative leadership, gender equity, risk-taking, and empowering women. She believes deeply that business is a powerful platform for social change and that girls are our future.
She now splits her time between Uganda and Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Ben run Sseko Designs.