The Short & Sweet.
Sseko Designs is a sandal company based in Uganda. We make beautiful leather sandals with interchangeable fabric straps that can be styled in hundreds of ways.
Sseko began as a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university. Sseko has graduated three classes of women. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree.
In addition to our university-bound team, Sseko also employs a full-time team of women from all walks of life. By creating an environment of dignity, honor, creativity and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for women in East Africa to end the cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society.
We believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world.
We believe that our stuff has a story and that every dollar you spend is a vote for the way you think the world should work.
Every Sseko has a story.
The Sseko Story: Part #2
Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help some of the brightest, most committed young women in Uganda continue their education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.
Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.
Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country’s educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.
Every sandal has a story. This story has only just begun, but with your help, it will be a story of hope, success and change. Although consumerism makes many empty promises, responsible and proactive consumerism has the ability to change lives. Like the lives of Mercy, Mary and Rebbecca.
Hear the whole story for yourself. To invite Sseko to your event, inquire here.
The Sseko Story: Part #3
A Letter From the Founder
My name is Liz.
I like to dream.
I went to Uganda on somewhat of a whim when I graduated from college in 2008. Over the past several years, my passion towards global issues, specifically poverty and women’s rights, had been growing. Yet, I had never experienced the effects of extreme poverty first-hand.
Now having just spent four years and a couple of pretty pennies for a university education, I couldn’t just flee the country without a respectable response to the much dreaded “What are you going to do when you graduate?” question. To justify such an outlandish adventure to another land, I (thought I) had to have something to DO; I had to have a plan. My academic background is in journalism and communications, so I went to Uganda with the intention of using my communication skills to assist a youth development organization with their communications, donor relations and quarterly newsletter.
So I set off. To offer the world what I thought I had to offer.
But really, it was a guise.
I went to learn. To understand. To be changed. To break. And to grow.
So I went. And while I was there…
I changed. I broke. And I grew. And I began (emphasis on began) to understand.
During my time in Uganda, I came across an incredible community. And in that incredible community there was an incredible group of young women. They were mostly my age. They became friends. The commitment of these young women blew me away. I was consistently challenged by the fact that these women saw the education they were receiving as such a gift. And these women were not only committed to learning their subjects, but also so committed to learning how to love well. To love each other. To reconcile their lives. To lead their communities and countries.
When I came to learn that many of these incredible young women were graduating from secondary school and struggling to find work to finance their university education, Sseko was born. It seemed so simple. I designed a sandal that I thought was really beautiful. I spent weeks, wandering around the city and the markets looking for the things I needed to make them. I didn’t know what I was doing. I laughed at myself, out loud, a lot. I also had a dramatic cry in the rain in the middle of a busy market because for three 14 hour days I had been looking for a tool to punch holes in leather. Luckily, it was pouring and I wasn’t wearing mascara, so I don’t think anyone could tell.
I had entered into a community in a world of brokenness and despair, where there was so much hope and success. I was just a small part of a simple solution. Some of these young women are from villages that have never seen one of their own women continue on to University. And here they were, two years later. They had received an incredible education and were qualified academically to continue. All they needed was an opportunity.
An opportunity to work. An opportunity to succeed and earn and save. To work in a place that was dignified and honoring. To work in an environment and with people who see beyond the now and have a vision for what they will become.
So that is what I did. We make beautiful things. We laugh and we love and we dance and we learn. And every nine months, we let go and we send these incredible women off to pursue dreams of their own.
I am still learning. I am making mistakes and making a mess. But it is a beautiful adventure.
I love to dream about the future of these women. About the change they will bring and the love they will give.
But I love dreaming about the here, as well. About building a community of people right here, who love with everything. Who see shoes as something more than a lifeless product on a shelf. Who see the lives and the dreams of the hands who made them.
Thanks for being a part of loving these women. Thanks for looking beyond the mess of the now and seeing a brighter future for them and us, for their country and for ours.