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April 24, 2019 4 min read

The raised leg of the grey crowned crane on the flag of Uganda symbolizes the forward movement of the country. Just as the symbol, there are two girls who dream, chase, and keep moving forward with enthusiastic hearts. Caragh Bannet is one of the founders of Tribe + Glory. With her best friend Loren, they started T+G together hoping to encourage and activate a group of dream chasers and world changers. Working out of Uganda, the unique model of craftsmanship, relationship and entrepreneurship has been created as a stepping stone for women in rural communities to pull themselves out of poverty, empowering them to support their families. 

Thanks to Caragh, who has shared her amazing stories with us!

What is it like working so closely with such a close friend?

We get asked this a LOT. Our Co Founder relationship is probably more marriage/sibling relationship than business partnership and honestly we think that's the only way it would work right now anyway! The nature of the work is extremely intense, with a lot of travel and a ridiculous number of high pressure situations. One day we will be in the village in Uganda without enough wifi to send an email, and the next we're preparing to pitch to department stores in New York and London.

It's a crazy ride right now and we legitimately have ended up sharing a car, a house, a bank account, about 70% of our clothes, our friends, our schedules, often even sleeping in the same bed when our friends/family are kind enough to let us stay with them! Our families have pretty much just adopted the other one of us as their own, we attend each other's siblings Christmas concert recitals, we call each other's grandparents their grandparent names and both of our families have even bought clothes for the other one of us at points. We spend most of our time either living and working together 24/7, or on separate continents engaging in long distance terrible quality ft audio calls and being asked by our friends 'how are you doing without Caragh/Loren?'.

We probably struggle a bit to keep a work/play divide but often our best ideas come from conversations over drinks after office hours or as we're walking/driving back from friends together! Of course there are moments where we fight (our most embarrassing public fight was in the middle of two back to back cross continental overnight flights in front of the Canadian Air check in desk at London Heathrow airport where we ended up crying and hugging in front of the completely bemused airline staff), but we've learnt a lot about what each other needs when things are particularly high pressure and have learnt how critical it is to protect our friendship!

What is your favorite part about living in Uganda?

Absolutely categorically the people we get to work with at the T+G HQ. Our team is fantastic and we have the best time creating, innovating, designing and hustling together in Kamuli. The HQ building is always buzzing with the production of our newest line as well as each of the Tribe + Glory women working on their own business plans and dreaming together of what they will achieve with the money they are saving! We love our pet goat and being so close to the Nile river and adventures in the Landcruiser around the country on product sourcing missions, but it's really the in person work with the team that we adore there. 

What are some of the challenges of being a non-profit?

Great question. A lot of it is in the messaging and branding of who we are as an organization and how we're bringing in our revenue. When we're communicating to our donors, many of them don't really care about the products we are creating, their priority is the entrepreneurship model which is at the heart of who we are. On the other side of the coin, our buyers and customers want to engage to differing degrees in the impact story behind the products which makes bringing together the different narratives a challenge. 

Many of your beautiful pieces are made out of horn- why this material?

Ankole Cattle Horn is iconic to the region we work in and the cows are farmed for the meat industry. Their unbelievably distinctive horns are often discarded as waste to be burned which we just think is such a shame! We love the unique patterning of the horn and how each and every piece we make comes out completely one of a kind. The natural variations are gorgeous and give us such an easy start to creating designs that show it off! We're also passionate about ethically sourced and environmentally aware products so working in and elevating what is effectively a waste material is so exciting for us. 

 How would you describe Kamuli in three words?

We brainstormed this in the office in Kamuli with our Ugandan staff and this was the verdict: Bustling, Green, Interesting

So much of your work is about educating and training the female artisans you work with to be entrepreneurs themselves, what are some of your team members aspirations and goals?

Yes, each of the Tribe + Glory program members are working with us to save up towards their own business dream. For example, Eva is graduating this summer with a Gomezi (traditional ceremonial dress) tailoring shop, and Harriet is graduating with a charcoal wholesale business. We have a range of industries from agricultural (Olivia is planning on opening a poultry farm and Robina is starting a garlic farm), to service industry (Ziadah is starting a mobile money business and Mariam is opening a restaurant!). Each of the different business ideas are innovative and exciting when we think of the possibility for them to scale and create more jobs in this community! Jennifer inspires us as she was illiterate when she joined the program and knows the stigma surrounding illiteracy for women in Kamuli, she therefore is planning on employing specifically illiterate women when she starts her business. 

 

What do you think makes Uganda very unique from other parts of East Africa? 

Uganda is particularly lush in vegetation which is surprising to a number of first time visitors, people are expecting the rust colour more commonly seen in Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is a patchwork of royal green and terracotta orange which is extremely vibrant in it's own way. 

 


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