Here at Belly Bandit HQ, a women-owned and operated company, we believe in celebrating the success of all women in business! Our “Moms Who Made It” series is our way of honoring Mompreneurs who inspire us every day.
This month we are featuring Liz Forkin Bohannon founder of Sseko, a company that began as a way to generate income for young women in Uganda to continue on to university. The women receive valuable training and create products from jewelry to shoes to gift items that are sold on ssekodesigns.com. At the end of their term, Sseko matches their savings 300% allowing them to pursue their dream of higher education. Now that's worth celebrating!
Describe your business philosophy in 5 words or less:
Creating community and opportunity.
What inspired you to go into business?
I moved to Uganda to be a journalist and ended up meeting some of the brightest young women in the country who tested into college but couldn’t afford to go. I designed a pair of sandals, hired three women and started Sseko (Say-Ko) to enable these high potential, talented young women in Uganda to continue on to university. These young women work for Sseko in the nine-month gap between secondary school and university, saving part of their income for university. At the end of their term, Sseko matches their savings 300%. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko has gone on to pursue higher education and is on her way to making our world a more beautiful place. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. Sseko Products are sold by Sseko Fellows across the country who share the story, sell the product and earn an income. We’ve enable 131 women in Uganda to attend university and created thousands of jobs for women across the globe!
When did you know you, “made it?”
Oh gosh. At every stage there have been different moments. Yet, I still find myself running towards the next “We made it!” mile marker! My first paycheck? (Years in!) Getting featured in Martha Stewart’s Gift Guide when I was still storing sandals in my bedroom closet? Launching the Sseko Fellows program and having our first Fellow sign up to sell our product and share the story? Next up is trying to DOUBLE the size of our Fellows community which means DOUBLING our impact by the end of 2019!
Who is your mentor?
I believe so deeply in peer mentorship! My greatest teachers have been fellow entrepreneurs who are running a similar race and are in the trenches. It’s so critical to have a community that can cheer for you, cry with you and share relevant experiences, contacts and ideas!
What’s your #1 tip for moms interested in starting their own business?
Mommy guilt is propaganda! It’s a gift to give your children to show them what it looks like to take risks and create. But I will also say, if you want to run a serious business, you need to be serious about carving out the time and space to do it. As my colleague Melanie Hernquist would say, “Don’t be upset at the results that you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do!”
What does “me” time mean to you?
What‘s on your bedside table?
Catastrophic Happiness by Catherine Newman. I just started it last night!
Words to live by - Share your favorite quote!
“I am creating on purpose and for a purpose.” No idea who said that or if it’s actually a quote but it’s my mantra for sure!