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Posts tagged ‘nonprofits’

Sandals Change Lives: Sseko Designs Helps Ugandan Women Go To College

July 12th, 2014

Lisa Dawson

It’s summer time, which means it’s sandal time! I was looking for some cute-yet-functional-and-comfortable sandals for the sunny weather when Linda from Clementine Shoes introduced me to Sseko ribbon sandals.

Sseko Designs (pronounced say-ko) was founded by Liz Forkin Bohannon after she took a post-college trip to Uganda. During her time there she met and made friends with a number of wonderful, smart young women, and learned how difficult it was for them to attend college. Liz wanted to start a company that provided a safe environment for women to learn a skill and earn money for their education, and the idea for the ribbon sandal was born.

Here’s a short overview of the program:

Participants spend nine months in the company factory in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, after which they will have earned enough money to pay for their first year of college (Sseko matches 100% of their earnings with a college scholarship).  47 women have attended college  in the five years since the company’s founding, and there are 50 current employees. That’s pretty amazing.

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. – Sseko Designs

Sseko is based in Portland, Oregon, but their products are all made in Africa with the intention of creating jobs, empowering artisans and helping end the cycle of poverty through building healthy communities and economies. In addition to the work in Uganda, Sseko designs and sources ethically made products from East Africa.

The Ribbon Sandal

The ribbon sandal is comprised of a base with several sturdy elastic loops and any number of broad, double-thickness ribbons. As you can imagine, the sky’s the limit with the different number of ribbon threading and tying combinations. Sseko has some on their website, and they encourage you to come up with your own. They also have some lovely accessories you can incorporate into your sandal design.

Linda gave me a pair to try out and I spent a little time browsing through combinations in the How To Tie section of the Sseko website. I tried a couple before landing on the Bohannon’s Best. The video was short and timed perfectly for the sandal tying rookie. Here’s my end result!

Bohannon's Best

The feel of the sandal base reminds me of my old Chaco flip flops: very stable with a nice little bounce. My regular size was perfect in length, and width accommodated my wider foot. The nice thing about the design of these sandals is that you can get the right size by simply standing on the base.

Tip: The cotton ribbon will stretch with the first couple of wears, so tie snugly and expect to re-tie them after walking around a bit.

A sandal base and one ribbon sells for $55, or a starter kit (base + three ribbons) is $80. Additional ribbons and accessories range from $10-20.

Useful links:

What NOT to do When Your Nonprofit Makes a Big Decision

February 2nd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

I just read Kivi Leroux Miller’s excellent assessment of the (presumably unintended) consequences of Komen’s decision to implement a new policy: The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure.

Komen for the Cure, it seems, is no longer a breast cancer charity, but a pro-life breast cancer charity.

Kivi talks about Komen’s dead silence following the news about Planned Parenthood, when they could have been thoughtful and proactive with  communications regarding their new policy.

By not responding at all to the overwhelming negativity being thrown their way, and continuing to pretend that this has nothing to do with a red-hot social issue, they are alienating a big part of their constituency.

Yep, Komen completely dropped the ball.

This is what’s most frustrating. I know a lot of pro-choice women who support both their local Komen affiliates and Planned Parenthood chapters. We recognize the value of the programs and services funded by Komen. We’re passionate about finding a way to stop breast cancer from killing 40,000 women a year. We want to work with Komen, but Komen has to work with us.

What Makes a Cause Worthy?

April 13th, 2011

Lisa Dawson

I received some interesting feedback after a recent presentation, an anonymous comment that read, “Enough about breast cancer – everyone knows about breast cancer. Why not focus on something different?”

The comment made me think about how we determine the worthiness of a cause, and how it can vary so greatly from one person to another.

What does make a cause worthy? Well, it really depends on what’s important to you. It could be education, healthcare, the arts, or a plethora of other social issues. It may change every year. Maybe you or a loved one has had a recent experience that has left you inspired to do something, to take action by donating time or money.

Breast cancer issues are obviously a passion of mine. But I became more aware of multiple sclerosis after an aunt was diagnosed 15 years ago, prompting my participation in several MS Society events. And I never really thought about the March of Dimes or its mission until my first child was born prematurely. The list of causes that resonate with me goes on and on, and at one point I found myself contributing to a dozen organizations with different missions. A few years ago (as I was preparing my tax return) I began to wonder how effective my contributions were. I ended up making the decision to narrow the list down to a few, and have focused my efforts on those.

I still have a number of causes that I keep an eye on, following twitter feeds and Facebook updates, and attending annual events to stay current on their work. This allows me to support them in a small way and share their information with friends and colleagues who might be inclined to give more.

But what’s most important to me right now is making sure people have access to the breast health resources they need, so that breast cancer can be caught at the earliest possible moment. That’s my worthy cause.

What makes a cause worthy to you?