UT grad launches nonprofit to empower Ugandan women

A young woman is helping make female entrepreneurship a reality in Uganda through her nonprofit jewelry line.

Loren Thomas, 24, grew up in Houston but moved to Uganda after graduating from the University of Texas. Her move was motivated by a desire to empower women to make their career dreams a reality.

She and her friend Caragh spent the past year and a half creating their nonprofit called Tribe + Glory. In October this year, they launched their jewelry line of earrings, bracelets and cocktail cups, hiring nine aspiring entrepreneurs in Uganda to make the products.

"The product line is all made out of recycled ankole cattle horn and brass," said Loren. "Every single piece is handmade, and the women do all of the work from sanding to cutting to branding."

Loren says 100 percent of proceeds go back into the Tribe + Glory nonprofit to help make the women's career dreams a reality.

"One woman is going to open up a whole sale charcoal company," said Loren. "Another is going to open up the first ever pool in our community."

She pointed to a portrait on her jewelry display.

"This is Fatuma," said Loren. "She's the one who's opening up the work-wear clothing store."

Loren says her nonprofit aims at helping women to get the capital and training they need to be business owners.

"So while they're working for us, they're paid a salary of which they save 60 percent every single month, and that salary upon graduating our program is reinvested into their business," said Loren. "We also provide them with access to a rigorous entrepreneurship training program."

Loren and Caragh got the idea for the nonprofit from a trip to Uganda after high school.

"We got the opportunity to meet some really incredible and inspiring women who had big dreams but simply didn't have the access to the education and the capital they needed to start their businesses," said Loren. "It's such a dream to get to be doing something that I love every single day while also helping women be able to do the same exact thing--doing what they love everyday."

Loren plans to hire 10 to 15 additional women in the coming months to make jewelry, earn savings and train to start their own businesses.

Loren is holding a Cyber Monday sale and a Giving Tuesday sale on the Tribe + Glory site. 

She'll sell her product at a Houston street market December 2. She goes back to Uganda in January where she spends most of her year.