BaMatooke Made is an organization that empowers families in Uganda through employment and entrepreneurship.
In 2007, Kendra Toole traveled to Uganda the summer after she graduated high school to volunteer with vulnerable children at a Ugandan orphanage. There, she met her future co-founders, Membe Josh and Ssubi Hope, two young Ugandan university students volunteering between semesters. Over the next four years, Josh, Hope and Kendra would get together every summer to put on summer camp for the children. Through this time, they learned that 75% of children living in orphanages in Uganda have living parents or family members, many of whom could not provide for the children due to economic setbacks in the amount of a few hundred dollars.
The team of founders wanted to get to the root of the issue and see the kids reunited with their families. Thus, BaMatooke Made was formed to address family separation and extreme poverty in Uganda through dignified work opportunities and holistic family support. BaMatooke Made aspires to see families and economies grow, prosper and thrive through small business ownership.
“BaMatooke Made” is a play on a Lugandan phrase which roughly translates to “the people who make things out of bananas.” First, the organization seeks out parents of children in or at-risk of being institutionalized in orphanages and invites them to join the program. After being hired, employees hand-craft biodegradable greeting cards (chosen for their market scalability and international demand) using traditional craft methods and materials with modern designs. The employment program offers six months of employment alongside entrepreneurial education. At the end of the six months, BaMatooke Made matches income saved towards business startup capital and awards a small business grant, no strings attached. They also provide an additional six months of support and mentorship, as well as a lifetime of community among small business owners and parents, all working towards family preservation and a stronger economy.
Last year, BaMatooke Made’s first cohort of entrepreneurs graduated. 75% of their students have gone on to successfully complete their program and start small businesses. Of those women, all but one have continued to successfully operate their small businesses for six or more months. BaMatooke Made plans to continue monitoring and supporting the women as they grow their businesses.
One of the founders’ proudest moments occurred when a student who had initially quit the program due to domestic violence was able to overcome this adversity. Today, she is running a successful small business, sending her children to school and living independently off of her income. To BaMatooke Made, this is a clear illustration of the power of economic independence.
BaMatooke Made joined Social Enterprise Alliance in 2019 as a Jim Schorr scholarship recipient. If you’re interested in supporting work like theirs, consider donating to empower the next cohort of social entrepreneurs! You can also shop BaMatooke Made’s products in our Holiday Gift Guide at toastinggood.com.
To learn more about BaMatooke Made, check out their member directory profile.