This post is in response to the work I’m doing on behalf of Global Team of 200. 1000 Shillings has provided us with the content and images below that are used in this post. For more information on 1000 Shillings, please click here

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 2.25.22 PM1000 Shillings is a Uganda-based organization that helps impoverished mothers earn a living through their small business by selling limited-edition paper bead jewelry. The unique name for the company is quite symbolic as it is the amount of money that they average woman in the Namatala slum lives on per day – approximately 1,000 Ugandan Shillings ($.40).

1000 Shillings was started by two women who had traveled the world and saw firsthand the impact that women-owned small businesses could have on improving women’s lives, especially women who live in poverty. The founders, Rebecca and Alexis, were inspired to start 1000 Shillings after spending some time working with six women in the Namatala slum in Mbale, Uganda.  During their time in Namatala, Rebecca and Alexis “realized the need for an international market place and a platform to empower the women to tell their stories”.  These six women became the heart and soul of 1000 Shillings and their stories are all shared on the 1000 Shillings website.

“The goal of 1000 Shillings is that you get to know the woman you are buying from, and then, through purchasing her products, you help her to become a self-sufficient businesswoman that is able to support her family”.

“1000 Shillings aims to connect people around the world through storytelling and high-quality artisan products. We strive to replicate the unique experience of buying from a local artisan while shopping in an international marketplace”.

-Rebecca and Alexis, Founders of 1000 Shillings

1000 Shillings is also different from other fair trade businesses because it employs a very unique three-pronged approach to help lift these women out of poverty into a sustainable life: Empower the women, Give them a voice, and Educate them.

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 4.20.42 PMWhat I like so much about 1000 Shillings is that not only does it empower women to earn a living and support their family, but it also gives them a voice. 1000 Shillings aims invites each woman artisian to tell the story behind her life and how 1000 Shillings has impacted her and her family.  It is a powerful way to improve lives.

1000 Shillings works with six single mothers in the Namatala slum, Uganda. If you are interested in reading their individual stories, here they are. I read them all and felt very moved by these women’s strength, perserverence and will to survive.

Martha  and

When I read through the six women’s stories, it was hard to pick just one to highlight. They are all so amazing. However for some reason, I picked Elizabeth. Her smile captivated me and drew me in here is her story. (Photos below used with permission from 1000 Shillings):

Meet Elizabeth


Here she is with her brilliant smile putting on her headscarf.


Here is Elizabeth at her vegetable stand.

I also chose these photos from 1000 Shillings website as they truly resonated with me. If I was there, these would be the kinds of photos I would capture.

Following is a visual glimpse into what life is like in Namatala, the slum where the women of 1000 Shillings live. You will notice the dire condition of the community of this slum, where 20,000 people call home. (All photos used with approval by 1000 Shillings). 


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Please check out 1000 Shillings website and remember that all purchases of these lovely handcrafted paper bead jewelry goes directly to help the six women who are trying to have a better life.

In honor of Elizabeth, here is the Elizabeth necklace (Cost US$25). For information on how to purchase the Elizabeth or any other necklace from 1000 Shillings, click here.



  1. Wonderful post, Nicole. I too love Elizabeth’s dazzling smile. I will definitely go an check out the website. The pictures of those living conditions are heartbreaking.

    1. Thanks! I am getting a necklace soon and look forward to it. I am now getting so many great gift ideas, and ones that really feel good about giving. Yes the living conditions are truly heartbreaking, aren’t they.

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