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Is the founder of Sseko Designs. 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 employment, educational opportunities and entrepreneurial training to over 50 women in East Africa.
Using her unlikely story 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.
Liz Forkin Bohannon is the founder of Sseko Designs. Sseko Designs 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.
Liz graduated from the University of Missouri with a Master’s degree in Journalism. In 2008, she moved to Uganda to assist in the communications efforts for a youth development organization based in Kampala. While there, Liz met an incredible group of talented young women who were struggling to finance their education.
After travelling the country by motorcycle to find raw materials and learn how to produce footwear by hand, Liz hired three young women and started Sseko Designs. In four years, Sseko has grown from three women making sandals together under a mango tree, to an international fashion brand that provides employment, educational opportunities and entrepreneurial training to over 50 women in East Africa.
Using her unlikely story 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 has spoken in venues around the world including France, Estonia and all over North America and East Africa. Her disarmingly authentic and witty voice captivates and inspires her audience. The Sseko story has been featured in dozens of publications including: Vogue Magazine, Redbook Magazine, O Magazine, Shape Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Huffington Post, LA TIMES and others. Among other notable honors, Liz is a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards finalist, the SVN Innovation Award Winner, the SXSW Eco Social Impact Award Winner, and Bloomberg Businessweek’s top social entrepreneur to watch.
She now splits her time between Uganda and Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Ben run Sseko Designs and raise their son, Theo.
Every sandal has a story.
“Liz Bohannon will inspire your audience. Her story is powerful, and she can connect with young and old, CEO or entrepreneur and bridges the gap of not just inspiring, but also providing practical lessons that can be applied immediately.”
- Brad Lomenick, President & Executive Director of Catalyst
“Inspired journey meets strategic thinking meets hilarious storytelling... Liz is the full package, and her accolades hardly prepared me for how amazing her art of presenting would be at Athena 2017. We positioned Liz as the kick-off speaker for a two day conference, and she set the tone with passion and inspiration immediately with an engaging, authentic story of how purpose is not found, but inside us. Our conference attendees have had nothing but glowing comments for her - it’s incredible to witness someone who can change the lives of so many in such a short period of time.”
- Sara Close, The Athena Conference
In 2017, Liz was named by Forbes as one of the top speakers in the country: "Liz is known for her fun and dynamic speaking style and her personal stories about taking risks, building a brand with purpose, and striving for gender equality and social enterprise at universities, conferences, and gatherings across the globe."
-Brian Rashid, Forbes
"Liz Forkin is one of the greatest communicators we have ever hosted at Plywood Presents. She has a gift of making every person feel like family, while teaching us something that changes the way we see the world forever. She is not only and incredible speaker, but she is a living and breathing example of the change we need in the world today."
-Jeff Shinabarger, Founder of Plywood People
Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand based in Uganda. In addition to handbags and accessories, 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. And it is working! Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree or has graduated from university and is on her way to making our world a more beautiful place.
In addition to our university-bound team, Sseko also employs women from all walks of life. By creating an environment of dignity, honor and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for marginalized 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.
These African sandals, made by women in Uganda are an example of how ethical fashion can help end the cycle of poverty. Fair trade and socially conscious fashion can be powerful agents of social change by empowering women in Africa and all over the world. When you support fair trade you’re voting with your dollars for a more beautiful world.
Every Sseko has a story.
THESE WOMEN will not make sandals forever. They will go on to become doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers, and teachers who will bring change to their country and our world. Sseko Designs uses fashion to provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women pursuing their dreams and overcoming poverty. To date, we’ve enabled 88 women to continue on to University. We provide employment (along with access to a comprehensive social impact program) to our team in Uganda. And we do it all through a financially self-sustaining model. To read these women’s stories and meed the rest of our team, click here.
John Maxwell Top Three Transformational Leaders of 2017
In 2017, Liz was featured by the Global Leadership Summit as a Grander Vision Leader.watch the video >
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