Liz was one of the other Innovator Speakers this past week at the What If Conference in Portland.
And she pretty much rocked my face off.
Liz was there to represent innovations in social entrepreneurship. This idea that with our businesses....we can change the world.
And that is, in every sense of the word, exactly what Liz is doing with her company Sseko Designs. It started with an impromptu trip to Africa right after she graduated college. Where she lived and worked among the Ugandan people. And saw first hand the extreme poverty that exists there. The hierarchy among men & women that usually means the only jobs left available to these women is the "job" of selling their bodies. At about the equivalent of twenty five cents a time. But given the choice between this and not eating, they chose to work. And that even though half of the best & brightest students in all of Uganda are women, usually none of them were able to go on to University for the simple fact that they couldn't get real work to raise the money. And so the cycle continued. As mothers watched their daughters being sold as well.
Enter Liz and an idea. A quirky pair of sandals she had made up one day when she was bored in college.
A pretty much killer pair of sandals that could change the world.
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 sandal has a story.
Now, this is where we come in. All of us. This model only works if people buy the sandals. And they are. Around 10,000 pairs have been sold this year so far. That's pretty good.
But What If it was 100,000 pairs instead?
How many more lives could be changed then? And how far would the ripple effect from that go?
I don't know about you guys, but when I see these shoes I feel like every woman I know should have a pair. Every bride, every friend, every family member. And maybe it's just me and how we're constantly thinking about weddings, but I kind of feel like they should be THE must have bridesmaid shoe this year, no? Because how many could we sell then?
And that's where you guys come in.
Because I know a LOT of brides. But together, we know so many more.
And I know a LOT of women. But together, we know so many more.
And together, maybe we could start a movement. A movement of women (and the men who love women!) using their spending power to change the lives of other women.
And maybe, just maybe, change the world in the process.
And I mean, let's face it... you get a cute pair of shoes in the process? I'd call that a Win-Win.
What If....every single person reading this got up off their butts, clicked off this page and bought a pair?
What If....every single person once they were over there on the site, bought a few extra pairs for the women they love too?
What If....every photographer reading this blogged about Sseko sandals and encouraged their brides to give them to their bridesmaids too?
What If....together, we made these the must have shoes of the year? Because buy a pair, give a pair is really good. But buy a pair, give someone a chance at a future is even better.
What If....we read this and didn't close the computer before we DID something about it?
And What If....we sold at least 100 pairs before the day is out? I think we can do it. No, scratch that. I KNOW we can. Let's just see how powerful we are together. If you're down to play, leave us a note in the comment box below of how many sandals you bought. I'm going to start by buying 3 pairs. Chime back in if you find out one of your friends bought some because you tweeted or facebooked about it. Let's keep a running tally. And come Monday, let's see if we can have made some stuff happen.