Our story begins with one courageous woman. In a chance encounter, our founders met Millie Grace Akena while walking through a Ugandan slum. Millie sat outside of her mud home, rolling beads from strips of paper under the sweltering sun, when Devin Hibbard, Ginny Jordan and Torkin Wakefield stopped to talk with her. Though she struggled to put food on the table, Millie found joy in creating beautiful things with her own hands, and she was determined to build a better future for her family.
Millie’s spirit was contagious, and she became the inspiration behind BeadforLife: A fair-trade label that employs women artisans and helps them sell their wares in the export market. Hundreds—and then thousands—of women turned their craftsmanship into higher incomes that sent children to school, paid for medical care and ensured pantries were never empty.
We could have stopped there, but we remembered Millie. She had the idea for a successful business before we did—all she needed was an opportunity. We wanted to make it possible for more women like Millie to live out their dreams. The BeadforLife team developed a training program to teach women living in poverty to create local businesses. They opened salons, shoe stores and produce stands, and their success made it clear we were on to something. And that something was scaling our business training as a separate, stand-alone organization to help lift even more women like Millie out of poverty. This marked the birth of the SBS we know today.
Today, Street Business School is a leader in global training. We’re on a mission to end extreme poverty by empowering women as entrepreneurs, and we teach other organizations how to implement our proven and effective business training. Our world-class and world-changing model will help 1 million people lift themselves from poverty by 2027.
People aren’t interested in handouts, and neither are we. We use proven methods to give them the knowledge and tools they need to succeed. In only six months, they take that knowledge and tools to create a business of their own. As fearless businesswomen, they build their enterprises, meet their daily needs, and raise capable and confident children who will break the cycle of generational poverty.