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Resistance Army (LRA) that was
ransacking the nation.
Multiple foreign aid pro-
grams were at work in these im-
poverished villages, providing
the people with the food, water
and medicine necessary to their
survival. The problem with this
well-accepted system, as Stew-
art quickly learned, was that the
resources were only as available
as the funding behind them.
If a program ran out of money
or determined a different cause
to be more important, the people
of Uganda would suddenly be
without food, water or vital med-
ication. Not only were the busi-
ness students aware of this flaw,
so were the people of Uganda.
Exhausted by their existence of
dependency and disappoint-
ment, the people of Uganda
were ready to regain control of
their lives and to work.
Although heartbroken by the
distress he discovered in North-
ern Uganda, Stewart returned to
the U.S. encouraged with the
opportunities for growth and
change in the war-torn nation.
Rather than continue to provide
the people with finite resources,
Stewart, Kohl and Travis could
provide them with a skill and
the necessary materials to make
their craft profitable. They would
empower the people of Uganda
to rise above poverty using the
art of crochet.
With the help of friends and
family, the Krochet Kids were
able to raise the money and cre-
ate international relationships
necessary to return to Ugan-
da and teach a small group
of women how to crochet.
Hand-selected by local gov-
erning bodies based on their
financial or medical need and
willingness to work, these
women would be provided
with yarn, hooks and a fair
salary in order to sustain their
craft and pull themselves and
their families out of poverty.
Almost immediately, people
in the States began to buy the
products and tell the story of
these women.
Krochet Kids internation-
al's program is simple: the
women in Northern Uganda
are taught to crochet and are
employed to create hats, scarves
and laptop cases. The real tear-
jerker? On the label of each cro-
cheted item is the signature of
the woman who created it. Buy-
ers are encouraged to go online
and find their lady, read her story
and send her a note of thanks.
In exchange for the work
that they do, these women re-
ceive a fair and relevant salary
(about equal to that of a full-time
teacher in Uganda) and courses
on financial responsibility and
personal safety. Each woman
works approximately 25 hours
a week as a crocheter, tailor or
hut leader within the protected
walls of the KKU (Krochet Kids
Uganda) compound.
Supervising the work done in
Uganda is a team of Americans
and Ugandans, including two re-
cent college graduates who were
hired as quality control interns.
Their blogs and letters home re-
call the stories, songs, prayers
and laughter that can be heard
echoing through and between
the traditional huts as the wom-
en create beautiful products and
encourage one another to con-
tinue to grow and pursue their
dreams.
Kohl, Stewart and Travis con-
tinue to hold down the fort state-
side from their headquarters in
Costa Mesa. In addition to the
original "Krochet Kids," the KKi
family has grown to include old
classmates, fellow entrepre-
neurs, artists, musicians, skate-
boarders and interns who work
tirelessly to spread the story of
hope for Uganda. All products
are designed in-shop and have
seen a recent shift toward more
sustainable materials such as
bamboo and organic cotton.
Although the company is
growing quickly, the founders
remain humble and consistently
express their gratitude to those
who guided and supported them
early on and to buyers who en-
able KKi to continue to grow and
help more women through their
purchases.
Thanks to meticulous plan-
ning and careful spending (the
guys joke that the women in
Uganda have always made more
money doing crochet than they
have as entrepreneurs), Krochet
Kids' program has become al-
most completely self-sustaining,
meaning that a large portion of
each sale can go directly back to
the women and into initiatives
to identify and train more ben-
eficiaries.
In addition to the work that
they do at the KKU compound,
many of these women are return-
ing to school or running their
own businesses in order to pro-
vide their families and friends
with additional income and to
better prepare for the future. By
providing these women with the
skills and resources they need
to pull themselves out of pov-
erty and to pursue their dreams,
Krochet Kids international has
helped lay the building blocks
for a sustainable new Ugandan
economy.
Today, just four years after
gaining its nonprofit status in
2007, Krochet Kids international
employs well over 100 women
in Northern Uganda as crochet-
ers, seamstresses and hut lead-
ers who are crafting their way
out of poverty and into hope.
Krochet Kids' beanies, laptop cases
and bamboo scarves are available at
most Nordstroms and krochetkids.org
Some of the first women to take part in the Uganda program.
A very joyful
Oyella Santa
Vicky crocheting
a Steven laptop
case.
KKNU Women:
One of our head
tailors, Acen
betty Fashion,
focusing on
making her
product.