BeadforLife’s Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan, and Devin Hibbard met their first paper bead artisan, Millie Grace Akena, whose craftsmanship and spirit sparked a creative revolution. While living in Uganda, Millie sat on the ground outside of her mud home and rolled small strips of paper into colorful beads in the sweltering sun. Her family was living on less than $1 a day from her local bead sales, but she held on to the hope of creating a better future for her children. Millie’s hard work and beautiful jewelry ignited a spark of inspiration for three American women who purchased jewelry from her during a chance encounter. Fueled by this chance encounter, BeadforLife has worked with over 40,000 Ugandans to help them rise above extreme poverty through the sale of their paper bead jewelry. In addition, BeadforLife provides entrepreneurial business training and mentoring support for these artisan members.
Paper bead jewelry was only the beginning. They have created an 18-month entrepreneurial business training, giving Ugandan women living in poverty the skills and confidence they need to go out and create their own local businesses. Salons, shoe stores, and produce stands are cropping up in Uganda and women are making money and living out their dreams. Not only do they have income, but now they have the confidence to be sustainable businesswomen.
Other BeadforLife members never create a product for BeadforLife, but instead already own a tiny business or have a dream of one day owning a business. BeadforLife enrolls these entrepreneurs in The Street Business School, a 6-month program providing enterpreneurial training and mentoring to help them start and scale a business. This is a cost-effective and scalable way for women to become successful business women.
BeadforLife has done an excellent job of measuring their impact and their impact is impressive:
*2,490 micro-businesses have been started in the last ten years
*In total, they have reached over 40,000 people in Uganda since they began in 2004
*81% of women who start a business during the program are still successfully running that business two years after they graduate
*98% of children of BeadforLife members are in school
Content & Images: BeadforLife Website