Loren Thomas and Caragh Bennet met in 2014 in the village of Zirobwe in the Central Region of Uganda. While still in college they built Tribe + Glory, which started as a women’s empowerment program that invested in women in Uganda, by teaching female entrepreneurs business, financial planning, and managerial skills. Thomas, 24, and Bennet, 22, started to find that the entrepreneurship model they had developed could be replicated in many other communities and soon after a 501c3 fashion brand was born.
“Through this program, we were excited by the women we met, their stories, and their business dreams leading us to believe in the opportunity for the Tribe + Glory model to expand, serving as a stepping stone for female entrepreneurs under the poverty line all around the world,” says Thomas.
When they met in the summer of 2014, Thomas was studying at the University of Texas and Bennet at Oxford University. With the help of professors, advisors and Bennet’s dissertation written on Tribe + Glory they built their dream job, by creating opportunities to help other women.
“From the beginning, our friendship developed out of a shared love of dreaming big, and we loved that the model of Tribe + Glory was all about facilitating people to do just that! We talked about big international aspirations for the model and saw the potential to replicate in other communities and countries,” says Bennet.
HOW IT WORKS
Thomas and Bennet believe that investing in female entrepreneurs and helping them access skills and capital to start their business turns dreams into a reality, and also lifts many families out of rural poverty. While in the program, the women handcraft the Tribe + Glory product line, and sales of the jewelry and home goods provide a salary for the women to use as a daily wage. After the artisans learn the skills they need to grow their business, they get support with their entrepreneurial dreams like owning a clothing boutique, hair salon, or hotel. When they graduate from the program, each woman has enough saved to start her business.
“We believe in the exciting potential for female entrepreneurs to act as a catalyst for rural development and are passionate about the wider impact that the Tribe + Glory model can create for future generations and the surrounding community,” says Thomas.
In October, Tribe + Glory launched a jewelry line of Ankole Cattle Horn. The rare horns come from Ankole cows, which are native to East Africa. Although the cows serve as a source of food, the horns traditionally get discarded or burned. Each horn used in Tribe + Glory production is sourced ethically as a food industry by-product. “There is so much potential in what we can do with the horn, and we plan to expand our collections in both of these areas creating a diverse group of products. Due to the nature of the horn, each product is unique which is part of what makes this material so iconic and exciting,” says Thomas.
The collection is made up of jewelry and home goods, including earrings, bangles, and a brass accent cuff. Along with the jewelry, the line features cocktail tumblers, “which are such a showcase of the stunning horn markings,” says Thomas.
LIFE IN AFRICA
The co-founders are both based in Uganda full time, and when they’re not busy working with the women in Kamuli, they spend time on the river Nile or going on safari adventures. “We love that our job has given us the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful corners of the world while meeting such inspirational people with incredible stories,” says Thomas.
Through this experience, they have learned what taking risks look like, even though at times it might feel slightly uncomfortable. “To grow and remain at the frontiers of our business, taking risks is a necessary factor. We’ve learned that in many cases, simply having the courage to take the first step is the way to manage these risks,” says Thomas.
Both, Thomas and Bennet, have big dreams for Tribe + Glory. They recently accepted more women into the program, and are already having partnership conversations with organizations around the world, in places like Haiti, Belize, and Turkey to bring the Tribe + Glory model to those areas to support more women entrepreneurs.
“We love the power of female entrepreneurs, and through our program, we hope to encourage and activate a group of dream chasers and world changers,” says Bennet.