Entrepreneurs, empowerment, and elegant bags: one startup giving education to Nigerian girls

By Hannah Lindstadt February 13, 2018

It may seem an unimpressive statement to say that society is in constant evolution and each generation’s values impact and shape the world around us. For those covering startup news and the latest innovation companies however, these generational shifts have been giving rise recently to an incredible moment in history.

Today modern companies, either lead by generation X executives or responding to market demands, are increasingly building their business models reflecting the younger generations values. No longer is it enough for a company to simply maximize profits at all costs, the values of generation X and millennials are demanding increased social responsibility.

Beyond charitable donations, small businesses with flexible businesses models have been building philanthropy into their core business models. And though the forerunner companies like Tom’s Shoes have faced their share of challenges while working out their charitable business models, the number of companies concerned with their impact on the environment, or helping those in need, seem to be taking the planet in an overall much more positive direction.

One such company aiming to make a positive impact with their online store is Olori. The company, named after the word in the Yoruba language which stands for “Queen”, strives to promote social justice through the sale of its African-inspired handbags, in an industry dominated by Western inspiration. With every bag sold, the company pays for one month of a Nigerian girl’s tuition.

Tomide Awe

The inspiration or the company’s focus on Nigeria and education came from the company’s founder Tomide Awe. “I was fortunate to have parents that could afford to send me to school from an early age. When I finally got my education, I knew that I wanted to create something that could help provide other girls with the opportunities that I had. That is why I created Olori, to ensure that more and more young girls around the world have the education they need to become the inspiring leaders of our future,” said Olori Founder, Tomide Awe.

Tomide Awe was raised in one of the most deprived areas of the world — sub-Saharan Africa. The country has 10.5 million children who do not attend school, most of whom are girls. And roughly 75% of children not in school have never stepped foot in a classroom. Olori hopes to change this by raising funds through the sale of its new line of handbags. Additionally, they work with artisans and women-owned businesses during the construction of their products, to help preserve unique craftsmanship and re-establish the influence of women in the fashion industry.


Photo from Olori’s collection

Through promoting education, Olori hopes to be a part of transforming the young girls of Nigeria into the female leaders of tomorrow. They are working with The Bridge International Academies to ensure the donations raised through the sale of the company’s handbags go to where they are needed.

Though currently, their efforts are focused on Nigeria, they plan to expand to wider Africa in the near future, and eventually the whole world.

Through the use of their online store, Olori is in a prime position to promote the education of young girls in Africa, along with the promotion of African culture in an industry that has often overlooked its unique designs. Thanks to the company’s efforts more young girls are getting the opportunity that education provides, one handbag at a time.

-This article was first seen on Giga Startups.