Ssekos multipurpose sandals help women

By Mary Rose Roberts
While shopping at a local boutique recently, I was introduced to Sseko (say-ko) Designs, a three-year-old nonprofit fashion company that helps young women in Uganda continue their education. I purchased a pair of their base sandals offered with straps in multiple colors and patterns (sold separately). With them came a postcard with images of the different ways it could be tied.

I liked the idea of the sandals' interchangeable nature—making the shoes multipurpose—and that my purchase helps women in Uganda get to the next level. In the country, there is a nine-month gap between secondary school and college. The time off lets students earn money for tuition before continuing.  

According to their website, Sseko hires women to live and work together during this period, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. “These women will not make sandals forever,” the nonprofit wrote. “They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22-year-long war.”

The shoes are made of genuine leather with a layer of foam in the middle and rubber on the bottom. Straps are made in different kinds of fabrics, including cotton and silk, wrote their live chat rep, Laura Corder—who was professional and well informed. Fabric batches vary. Since the company purchases everything in East Africa, it depends on the market from week to week. However, the leather does come from smaller tanneries where the cows are raised on local, family farms, as is typical in that region.

To be honest, I had the sandals about a month before I got around to tying them. I even tried to cajole Food Editor Anna Fischer Wulff into helping me figure it out. She wanted nothing to do with it. Finally, I sat down with the video for the twisted slip style.

At first I thought, “What did I get myself into here?” But with some patience, I quickly tied them.  Now that I’ve tied one, I can’t wait to try my other color, turquoise, in a more complicated pattern.  

The company also lets people host Sseko parties.


  1. LOVE. Ha ha Yah, Anna wanted NONE of it!! Not even the video! Good job, they look super cute!!

  2. I need to tie them again, as they are bit too loose. While I am still getting the hang of it, I think once I get them right I will love them. I might try doubling up on the fabric.... A much better alternative to flip flops