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The Akola journey began with a 10 minute meeting that changed my life. In 2004, I was moved to compassion as a sophomore in college after meeting a Ugandan woman named Sarah who cared for 24 street children in her home. Compassion escalated to action as I founded an organization to construct an orphanage home to house children who slept on Sarah’s floor.
In 2006, we began the construction of the orphanage and the drilling of over 20 water wells throughout the country. As we traveled to different villages, we were amazed by women who cared for 10+ children in their homes. Like Sarah, they had a hope and vision for their families; they simply did not have the income or confidence to embrace their calling. After completing the orphanage, we discovered that by training and employing 250 women and guaranteeing them a monthly income we could care for 2,500, without the construction of an orphanage.
In 2007, we launched new sustainable model to uplift women and children. The women named it ‘Akola,’ which means ‘to work’ in their local dialect. In 2010, I moved from Uganda to the US [to] get my master’s degree in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. After 5 years in the field, I worked with the best development practitioners in the country to develop a sustainable impact model for women. The work paid off. Over the last 7 years, Akola Project has blossomed into a thriving social business that has impacted 2,750 women and children in extreme poverty.
Thanks to incredible efforts from our teams in Uganda and the US, Akola is poised to grow our impact significantly through our development projects and the success of our Akola product line that will launch through a national department store in 2015. We launched Akola Dallas in 2014 to offer an economic alternative to sex trafficking victims through business training and employment at our US distribution center.
-Brittany Merrill Underwood (Akola Project, Founder & President)
To empower women in poverty to transform the well-being of their families and communities through economic development.