Securing Bright Futures for Vibrant Sandal Artisans and their Families

RoHo employs female artisans in Kenya to create beautiful hand-crafted leather sandals and beaded accessories while providing education grants to empower children’s futures.

When RoHo founder Caleigh Hernandez was a college student, she picked up a pair of vibrant beaded sandals in a Ugandan market, in awe of the delicate bead work and craftsmanship. Hernandez felt she had to find their creator and inquired with shopkeepers who consistently told her to “look for a woman named Lydia, the Kenyan, you’ll know when you see her.” So, after hours of searching and inadvertent tours around Kampala on motorcycle taxis, Hernandez found her.

Between bits of broken English, Swahili and Lugandan, the two women chatted for hours on wooden stools in Lydia’s pop-up craft shop. She explained how a cooperative of women artisans were making the sandals in Kenya and selling them in Uganda. The Kenyan artisans were clearly talented and ambitious, they just needed access to additional markets to generate a steady income. This inspired Hernandez to leverage the women’s talents to sell products that would appeal to her American counterparts.

Rooted in the Swahili word for kindness and spirit, RoHo was born as a direct-to-consumer shoes and accessories brand. As a social enterprise, economically empowering female artisans and their families is top of mind at RoHo. That’s why beyond paying their artisans fairly (50% above industry standard), RoHo also provides education grants to send artisans’ children to quality local schools. For artisans like Louise (pictured), a mother of three, the consistent employment and education grants from RoHo allow her to save money for her children’s future and plan for a vacation!

Since its founding, RoHo has expanded its line from sandals to include cowhide bags, accessories as well as jewelry. They are now partnered with over four artisan groups of 400 artisans, 95% of which are women. 

Recently, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network recognized RoHo as one of 50 global youth-led solutions advancing the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their Youth Solutions Report. Highlighted as an innovative leader, Hernandez is committed to creating social change through ethical fashion and focusing on the quality of products, ethical work and economic empowerment to achieve the SDGs like ending poverty and ensuring responsible consumption and production.

Caleigh and RoHo joined SEA in late 2019 in an effort to connect with fellow social entrepreneurs and companies that give back. They have found that while profit is important, quality, ethical and social impact goals should be a priority and are excited to connect with fellow changemakers in this space. 

To learn more about RoHo, check out their member directory profile.

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