Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Building Brighter Futures for Women in Uganda’s Slums

by | Artisans, Fashion as a Force for Good

Building Brighter Futures for Women in Uganda’s Slums – (Read Time: 6 min.)

In Search of Hope in Uganda

In overcrowded slums lined with makeshift sheet metal houses, mothers struggle to raise their children without “luxuries” like running water or proper drainage. The stench of sewage is a constant reminder of the unsanitary conditions that make living with dirt floors a continual threat to their family’s health.

Malnutrition is a daily battle. Children who can afford to pay their school fees struggle to do their homework without electricity or adequate light. Unemployment is high and morale is extremely low. The women who live here are desperate for opportunities for change. They want a better future for their families. They are asking for reasons to hope.

Trades of Hope is partnering with Artisan communities in Uganda to offer women hope.

Florence’s Story of Hope

Seven years ago, Florence was living in the slums of Uganda. As a community health worker, she was unable to support herself and her family. Struggling with her own health challenges, Florence was dependent on relatives to pay her rent and utility bills.

When a local artisan group offered her an opportunity to become a fair-trade jewelry Artisan, Florence was eager for the chance to change her family’s future.

Five very special women – all Florence’s former clients – invested their time and talents into teaching Florence how to craft beautiful beads from ordinary paper. These five women were experienced businesswomen who sold their handcrafted jewelry at local markets.

As Florence grew in her artisanal skills, a local church offered her more extensive training in the craft of making paper beads.

The House That Hope Built

She used these skills to begin crafting jewelry for Trades of Hope. Florence later completed an entrepreneurship course through this same church and soon began expanding her business ventures beyond making jewelry. With the income she has earned as an Artisan, Florence has invested in a Boda-Boda (motorcycle taxi) for her business. Investments like this once seemed impossible.

What once seemed even more impossible – her dream of owning her own home – is now becoming a reality because of her work as a Trades of Hope Artisan partner. When Trades of Hope learned that Florence was ready to begin construction on her own home in Uganda, our founders joyfully contributed to her building fund. Florence gratefully shared her journey to homeownership with us.

One Step at a Time

With the income Florence earned as an Artisan, she purchased farmland in Uganda. As Florence built her dream home, it began with a vision and a solid foundation. Construction of her family’s dream home began with a solid foundation and brick walls.

Once the walls were completed, they began to build the trusses to support the roof. A sturdy roof was then constructed to shelter Florence’s house from Africa’s rainy season. When the structure of the home was finally completed, a smooth finish coating was added to the exterior. Artistic finishing touches were added to her kitchen and porches featuring beautiful stonework.

Step by step, Florence’s dream of owning her own home became a reality.

Like building a house, building brighter futures for women in Uganda doesn’t happen overnight. It becomes a reality one step at a time. Trades of Hope provides women in the slums of Uganda with the vision to see beyond their circumstances by offering them opportunities to grow and rise above them.

These women can begin to build on their dreams with the free training offered by experienced Artisans. Working as fair-trade Artisans, they receive other benefits, such as business management training and financial planning.

Trades of Hope Artisan partners, like Florence, are offered opportunities to earn sustainable income through dignified work.

These fair-trade wages provide enough income to provide sustainable housing, food, and education for Artisans and their families. But fair-trade wages also serve as solid foundations for these women to build even greater dreams for their futures, like businesses and homes for their families.

Investing in Her Family’s Future

As Florence looks forward to her family’s future, she invests part of the income she earns as an Artisan into creating even more sources of income. Multiple sources of sustainable income provide her with the financial security they could not enjoy before she became an Artisan.

Florence can now invest in medical care for herself and her family – care they previously could not afford. She is also able to help provide food, shelter, and education for several of her nieces and nephews, including school fees and supplies when needed.

Paying it Forward

Florence’s income provides her family with security. In addition to her homestead property, she has been able to purchase two other plots of farmland. She operates large scale agricultural businesses on these properties using the entrepreneurial skills she developed as a fair-trade Artisan. The income from these businesses will provide her family with the ability to invest in future generations.

Florence is grateful for her partnership with Trades of Hope. Just as many of you have partnered with her to help her build a better future for her and her family, she partners with the next generation of young women in Uganda to help them escape the poverty of the slums.

Florence “pays it forward” by serving in her local government as a community leader advocating for better sanitation, clean water, and responsible land management. Her local Artisan community also offers free Artisan training to women in their community who want to become financially independent.

Her local Artisan community also offers free Artisan training to women in their community who want to become financially independent.

As part of her commitment to “pay it forward” to the next generation, Florence also cares for her niece, Mercy, who lives with her. Mercy can often be found by her aunt’s side, happily learning new skills from Florence and the other experienced Artisans.

Bright Futures for More Women

Fair-trade fashion makes a direct impact on the lives of women living in the slums of Uganda.

Trades of Hope is committed to helping women like Florence and her family rise above poverty and build brighter futures for themselves and their families.

Building brighter futures for women in Uganda begins with providing them with the right tools, training, and opportunities.

Investing in fair-trade fashion is investing in families like Florence’s.

Investing in these families gives them reasons to hope.

Every woman deserves the chance to build a brighter future for herself and her family.


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Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communications Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan advocacy.