Over a year ago, I applied for the show. I honestly didn’t think much about it. (I didn’t even tell Ben I did it!)
The odds were ridiculous. But we went for it.
And it worked.
YOU GUYS. We’re on SHARK TANK.
It’s ridiculous and awesome and it’s been SUCH a crazy ride. And it’s SO FUN that we FINALLY get to talk about it! We’ve been mums the word for months now and we’re so excited to share the news with the Sseko family so that you can join in on the fun.
Now, more than ever, we’d love the support of our Sseko family! How, you ask? Well, you can host a Sseko Shark Tank viewing party (and earn the chance to win Ssekos for YOUR ENTIRE PARTY!) and you can support us on social media by live tweeting and Facebooking during the show and use the hashtag #teamsseko.
We’re so thankful for our community and the people like you who know, love and support Sseko. We seriously couldn’t do it with out YOU.
Liz and Ben
RSVP to our Facebook event HERE to get live updates on the event and stay up-to-date on Shark Tank happenings. Oh, and find out more about how you can win Ssekos!
Lea’s first hairdo after high school–which requires boys and girls alike to keep their heads closely shaved–represented a new life stage as much as her diploma. So as a new graduate, a university-bound young woman, Lea showed off new hair that twisted its way in cute curlicues around her head. Still, Lea’s not out to make any big statement. Personality-wise she exudes serenity and harmony, satisfied to work while humming to herself–hymns and year-round Christmas carols, mostly. For her a good work ethic is all about peaceful relationships, and she brings a placid, lake-like happy calm in and out every day. Sometimes, especially when she comes in neatly dressed in Mary Janes and a long skirt, we call her Little Leah on the Prairie–Lea’s so sweet you just can’t help but start coming up with terms of endearment.
SSEKO CLASS YEAR: 2011
Lea is currently pursuing a degree in Business Studies and Education at Kyambogo University. She plans to graduate in November of 2014. Lea wants to become a serious, responsible business woman, who influences positive change, especially in the younger generations. She dreams of establishing a foundation that influences youth and inspires them to live with integrity.
Sseko was Lea’s first job. In her time at Sseko, she learned how to work hard as a woman and learned all that she is capable of. It was a rewarding time of growth and empowerment for her. She was a valuable friend to many of the staff at Sseko, and she learned to fill a role of compassionate friend and supporter. Lea tells us, “I was inspired creatively and innovatively at Sseko.”
We’ve got our eye on Maureen—mostly because she is notorious for pulling hilarious pranks. And her impressions are rather impeccable. When asked to impersonate Liz Bohannon, she boldly took the challenge. (Who doesn’t love a girl willing to impersonate her boss to her face?) She stood up and started moving quickly around the room, giving hive fives and squeals of delight. “You’re always moving about. So quickly. Like you’re exercising everywhere you go!” She’s got jokes. But she also has a more serious side.
SSEKO CLASS YEAR: 2012
After watching her older sister get pregnant and drop out of school, she has become passionate about the issue of abstinence. For her, pursuing her education and career is just too important to be jeopardized by an unexpected pregnancy. In fact, during her time at secondary school, she started a student organization dedicated to mentoring younger female students on the steps they need to take to ensure they are able to continue pursuing their dreams.
Moreen is currently attending Kyambogo University and pursuing a degree in Management Science. Moreen dreams of starting her own business and becoming a successful manager.
We know that Maureen’s plan to pursue a Management degree will be well grounded by her attitude in the Sseko workplace. She tells us that her experience has taught her how to communicate with coworkers of different tribes despite the difference in category and age. She says that “even though we are young girls, we have learned to handle differences and appreciate people so that we can work in a good environment, hand-in-hand.” When reflecting on things she has learned about herself, she told us she has learned not to fear things she cannot do well immediately. Some stages of production were a struggle at first but with time, persistence and coaching she was able to reach her daily goals. With confidence, she smiles and she declares, “My time at Sseko taught me to be determined and set personal goals.”
“When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery. When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.”
During her years at Sseko, Mercy learned quite a bit about starting a business. She saw the initial design phase and continued working with Sseko for 2 more years. Mercy became a confident young woman during her time at Sseko and was an excellent support for our management as we learned the ropes of living and working in Uganda. Mercy learned the importance of teamwork during her time at Sseko.
SSEKO CLASS YEAR: 2010
Mercy is currently attending Makerere University and is pursuing a course in Information Technology and Computer Science. She expects to graduate in early 2013, and is already pursuing her options for employment. With her dedication and hard work, we believe Mercy has so much potential. Mercy tells us that she has been greatly inspired by her mother who managed to take care of her family with love, respect and courageous flair. Mercy desires to be just like her mother.
Mercy’s dream is to have a family someday and be involved in church leadership.
‘Tis the season for the Sseko Uganda Christmas Party and a thrilling Secret Santa gift exchange! Yep, it’s that time of year again and despite the down pouring rain we keep having in the middle of dry season, it didn’t stop us from planning our annual Christmas party.
Over the mud puddles and through the traffic jam, To the Sseko Christmas Party we go! Some of the ladies brought their children and our day was spent laughing, singing and dancing in each other’s company. The ladies wore their finest dresses for the occasion, which didn’t stop them from participating in a rousing and competitive game of ‘Spoons’. We cut the cake and drank our sodas all leading up to the much anticipated Secret Santa exchange.
The exchange has become quite an annual saga at the Sseko workshop! The names are drawn on November 1st, and the women spend the next two months sneakily trying to find out who picked whose name and what they want for Christmas! Whenever the question “Who is your secret?” was asked, giggling was sure to ensue all around the workshop. And when the time finally came for us to exchange our gifts, the women could barely stay seated as they were just too excited to get started giving!
After all the presents had been unwrapped and passed around, we enjoyed a spread of fine Ugandan food while Oscar entertained the children with a big giraffe statue that the ladies kept referring to as a goat statue. And to finish off the day, we went for a train ride! All presents and purses in tow, the rickety train ferried us around the event grounds a few times, after which the ladies all tumbled out with huge smiles on their faces, proclaiming “We have made it home to Uganda after a long journey!”
Merry Christmas from Uganda! We hope you are enjoying every moment spent with family and friends this holiday season and giving from the bottom of your heart.
Along with providing sustainable employment for our amazing Sseko women in Uganda, we provide a comprehensive social impact program for them, educating them on topics including budgeting and financial skills, computer training, English classes, health and first aid training. At Sseko, we believe that by creating an environment of dignity, honor, dedication and education, marginalized women in East Africa can pursue their dreams, improve their communities and make the world a more just and beautiful place.
This month we ran computer training sessions for the women on topics from Computers Introduction and Internet & Email to Computer Programs (Word and Excel). Some of the women had never touched a computer before these classes, and they were all eager to learn and visibly thrilled upon learning each new step and having the opportunity to practice their new skills and knowledge. This was a great opportunity for them to advance their knowledge and showed them the benefits of using computers and the internet in today’s world.
Amidst all the talk about gifts this holiday season, we want to talk about giving. Not just about the pretty little gifts you’ll find tucked in your stocking or carefully placed under the tree, but about giving. Giving of yourself, your time and your talents. We’re hoping you’ll help us start a movement to think about how we’re giving, not just during the holiday season, but every day. Continue Reading
Last week on the blog we featured Sharon’s Introduction Ceremony, and this week we’re celebrating her wedding!
There’s nothing we like more around here than a good party, and what’s better than celebrating the wedding of our dear Sharon with a whole lot of singing and dancing in fancy dresses with sodas in our hands?
The wedding itself was not unlike the typical wedding with vows and exchanging of rings, but it did include a lot more shimmying, shaking and gospel music than normal. We loved seeing Sharon as a beautiful bride in her wedding dress, and our very own Josephine in her bridesmaid dress, as well as in each of their dress changes throughout the reception, a common tradition here in Uganda.
The reception was an affair to remember as the wedding guests showed their appreciation for the bride and groom through singing, dancing, giving of gifts and speeches. As they cut the cake, sparkling candles shot into the air and the crowd erupted into a chorus of “AY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YAY!”
The Sseko Story is growing and we are thrilled to debut our 2013 Fall Collection on September 4th. Handcrafted in East Africa, the Sseko Fall Collection features leather hobo bags, scarves, wallets, clutches and our signature Sseko sandals. Every Sseko has a Story and with you we are creating stories of hope, dignity & empowerment.