Liz Forkin Bohannon

Finalist 2013

Liz Forkin Bohannon

Sseko Designs
Produces a footwear and accessory brand that employs young women seeking to finance their higher education.

When Liz Forkin Bohannon graduated from high school, the world was her proverbial oyster. She studied journalism at university then took a job with a multinational communications firm. But something jarred. ‘As a student I cared passionately about the effects of extreme poverty on women. But I had no relationship with anyone living in such conditions. It struck me that the gap between my actions and my words was too big.’

In one of those spontaneous moments that can turn a life around, Liz booked a flight to Uganda, where a former fellow college student was working at an orphanage. She gave Liz her first place to stay and the foothold that would launch a new career.

Liz volunteered in youth development and reported on a school helping the brightest girls from rural areas to finish secondary education. ‘These girls had incredible dreams and visions for themselves, but most could not afford university education.’ Uganda's students traditionally find jobs to pay for their tuition during the nine-month gap between A-levels and university, but with scant job opportunities for girls in rural communities, Liz started looking for ideas to help. The first was a chicken farm, but she soon realised this was not the pluckiest way to feather one’s nest: ‘I knew nothing about African chickens! I needed to find something to sell to a western market instead.’