Using fashion to educate and empower women. Every Sseko product has a story.
Sseko (pronounced “say-ko”) started with a girl named Liz Bohannan, who graduated from college in 2008 and went to Uganda with a plan—only to return with the knowledge that she had so much more to learn.
During her time in Uganda, Bohannan befriended an incredible community of young women. Many of them were graduating from secondary school and struggling to find work to finance their university education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university, to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on. However, in an impoverished and male-dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work.
That’s when Bohannan thought to start Sseko Designs, a company that makes beautiful leather accessories, scarves and sandals. Sseko employs some of the brightest, most committed young women in Uganda for this nine month period between secondary school and university. They live and work together while earning money that goes directly towards their higher education. These women will not make sandals forever; they’ll go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided by a 22 year-long war.
Bohannan and her team have since expanded to Ethiopia, where they work with partner organizations to create leather goods from locally souced materials. Not only are those artisans paid a fair wage, but each item sold helps fund Sseko’s mission to educate and empower women in Uganda.
“This story has only just begun,” says Bohannan. “But with your help, it will be a story of hope, success and change.”
Why we love them
Liz, her local Ugandan staff and partner organizations in Ethiopia make classic, elegant and functional sandals and accessories. We love them for their everyday appeal—a simple scarf to dress up your outfit or a bag for all your odds and ends. Their pieces are ones we come back to time and time again.
We love that their materials are sourced locally (the leather comes from small farms and pastoralists) and that their partner organizations are creating sustainable job opportunities throughout Africa. We stand behind Sseko’s mission to support women’s education in Uganda as they struggle to rise above the conflict-laden nation’s cultural and economic troubles. To date, they have enabled 33 women to attend University while they employ another 45—and it’s all through a self-sustaining model. Sseko Designs is providing a win-win opportunity to buy a fashionable product while supporting a phenomenal cause.