BeadforLife is a social enterprise that gives women a chance to become financially independent. This non-profit aims to reduce poverty in Africa by teaching women to sell their goods to feed their families.
The story began when BeadforLife founders Ginny Jordan, Devin Hibbard, and Torkin Wakefield were walking through the slums of Uganda and came across a woman named Millie Grace Aneka crafting beads from paper strips.
Aneka sat outside her mud and wattle hut with a thatched roof. Her earthen home and dirt floor is common in Uganda. Nearly 90% of homes there are made from local, natural resources like air-dried mud bricks—and though they’re not durable, they’re affordable. No lights, no running water, and few proper toilets.
In the summer, Ugandan temperatures rise into the mid-80s—not comfortable to sit in a mud hut. Thus, work outside, just as Aneka was doing. She was one example of the more than 10 million Ugandans that live in poverty. She could barely put food on the table.
Parts of Africa are particularly susceptible to poverty due to governance, conflict, lack of social security, and natural disasters. Combine this with diseases like HIV/AIDS in hundreds of thousands of people as well as treatable conditions like diarrhea, low agricultural productivity, and lack of skilled labor, and poverty levels rise.
This leads to greater child and mortality rates and subpar, if any, education.
Upon meeting Aneka, the team noticed she was joyful while working on her jewelry. She used shredded strips of paper to create beads.
BeadforLife Allows Women to Feed Their Families
The team recognized that this was a marketable product with a compelling story and that, with an entrepreneurial training program, mentoring and resources, Aneka’s craft could help bring women out of poverty into a sustainable future.
Aneka listened enthusiastically to the team's proposal and thus, in 2004, BeadforLife was born and began training women to create beaded bracelets. Aneka’s simple craft changed lives for the better when the non-profit sold these fair trade products in the United States through churches, schools, homes, and conferences. The money was then put back into further entrepreneurial programs. Soon their business would help women to raise their income over 300%, from a meager $1.35 to $4.19 a day!
By 2014, BeadforLife was investing in entrepreneurial training programs to teach women to open their own businesses. Two years after graduating, more than 89% of these female entrepreneurs had a thriving business!
As of 2018, these female entrepreneurs had earned more than $610,000 in revenue.
With beads, grit, and determination, BeadforLife plans to lift more than a million people out of poverty by 2027. One bead at a time, they nudge closer to their goal. Support their mission by purchasing goods through The Boutique, inside the Flower & Home Marketplace.