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Tomide Awe: Founder of Olori

17 million girls in Africa do not have access to education, and Olori is trying to make that staggering statistic a thing of the past. Olori partners with women-owned businesses and artisans in Africa to craft beautiful handbags and accessories. Each product funds the tuition for girls’ education in Africa. As the founder, Tomide teams up with organizations like CAMFED and Bridge International Academies to help provide girls with an education.

Can you tell us about the women that you work with?

When I started Olori, it was really important for me to integrate women-owned businesses and artisans into the fabric of the brand. This is because women, especially in our focus communities in Africa, are generally less likely to have access to economic opportunities but shoulder many financial burdens in their families. For this reason, the hand-woven fabrics used in our products are sourced exclusively from local, women-owned businesses in Africa, to enable them, not only care for themselves, but also for their families and communities.

How do your handbags and accessories empower women?

The hand-woven fabrics used in our products are sourced exclusively from women-owned businesses in Africa. Additionally, in line with our vision to create a world where women live in their full potential as queens, we donate 2% of our profit towards the education of girls in under-served communities. My grandmother lived in a little village in Nigeria and even though she desired to be educated, she was uneducated while her brothers were. This is because she grew up in a time and place where the male child was considered more important. Realizing the importance of education, she made many sacrifices to ensure that all her children, including my mother, got an education. As a result of her determination and vision, my siblings and I are privileged to have multiple degrees and to be impacting our communities, not only in Nigeria, but also in the US and in the UK. I’m honored and proud to carry on her legacy through Olori, to ensure that every girl has the same opportunity I got.

Through our collaboration with our giving partner, such as Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED), we power generational impact by supporting the education and empowerment of young girls in under-served African communities. We are committed to not only showcasing the beauty of African cultures, but also securing women’s places as we build for generations to come.

What are some of the challenges young girls in Africa face today?

Young girls in Africa today are still disproportionately out of school - there are more girls of primary and secondary school ages out of school than boys. This is due in part to the fact that in some parts of Africa, girls are still considered less important than boys. Another reason why more girls are out of school in Africa is that many of them are subjected to child marriage and early pregnancies. Poverty or a lack of resources are also some of the challenges facing young girls in Africa. Some of their parents or guardians cannot afford quality education, and therefore the girls have to join the workforce early to support their families.

What can we do to help these girls from the other side of the world?

I love to say that it is up to women of means to lend a hand and bring other women up. One way to help is by donating to organizations that work to provide quality education to children in under-resourced areas in Africa, such as Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). Another way to help is through the power of our purchase - supporting businesses and social enterprises that contribute to girls education in Africa, like Olori.


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