“I seek to build a community of conscious consumers with a forward-thinking team who believe re-using and recycling can turn trash into treasure.”
Ghanaian social entrepreneur Mabel Suglo is passionate about alleviating poverty. She is the co-founder of the Eco-Shoes Project, an initiative that helps artisans with disabilities make marketable shoes from used tires and recycled cloth. Started in 2013, the project employs five people.
“There are millions of discarded car tire stockpiles and waste materials in Ghana which pose an environmental and health hazard,” Suglo said. “Eco-Shoes rescues some of the millions of tires and other material waste creating an environmental nuisance, to make fashionable and comfortable shoes.”
She hopes to raise funds to buy better machines, enhance productivity, invest in an e-commerce site, and provide additional training such as computer skills that will help in designing shoes for her artisans.
Mabel Suglo was born in Jirapa in the West Region of Ghana on the 24th of September 1993 to Mr. Gaspard Suglo and Madam Mary Adolee. Mabel is the last born of three girls. Mabel’s mother and her late grandmother were inspirations to her early in life. They taught her to love humanity, be generous to all she met in life, and especially to show caring and kindness to those that are vulnerable, due to the additional challenges they face. Mabel’s grandmother was a shining example of how someone who was disabled, though great courage and strength, was able to farm and be self-sufficient.
Ms. Suglo had a big year in 2013; she not only graduated from Ghanata, but also co-founded the Eco-Shoes Project and began her studies in Health Science Education at the University for Development Studies in Tamale. The Eco-Shoes Project is an initiative that assists artisans with disabilities to create fashionable, comfortable, Afro-themed shoes and accessories from discarded tires and waste materials including recycled cloth.
Ms. Suglo’s initiative is not only improving Ghana’s environmental health, but also employs five people. Ms. Suglo is also helping to change perceptions of disabled people who all too often are discarded by their families and society as burdens not capable of making contributions to society. In many ways, her business model is like that of the impressive social entrepreneur and founder of soleRebels footwear, Bethlehem Alemu of Ethiopia, who also intentionally employs those that might not otherwise be hired.
Ms. Suglo provides mentoring on product development and financial and business literacy to her employees to considerable success. In 2013 Eco-Shoes Project produced 500 pairs of shoes. Due to demand for the beautiful shoes, by 2014, the number had risen to 1,500 pairs. Although it is called the Eco-Shoes Project, in late 2015, handbags were added as a new product. Ms. Suglo anticipates that the artisans will produce 1,000 to 1,500 handbags per year in addition to the shoes that are being made. It was her good work with the Eco-Shoes Project that made her the second runner up for a 2015 Anzisha Prize and the recipient of $12,500.
The prestigious Anzisha Prize is awarded through the African Leadership Academy in South Africa and the MasterCard Foundation. Ms. Suglo plans to use the prize money to purchase better machinery to enhance productivity at the Eco-Shoes Project. She also would like to invest in the creation of an e-commerce site and additional training for her employees, including computer-aided shoe design. Ms. Suglo anticipates graduating with her Bachelor’s in Health Science Education in 2017.
Credits |African development successes