Helping women all over the world engage meaningfully in the fight against extreme poverty


Millie 1 BeadforLife is a non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, which strives to enable women in Northern Uganda to bring themselves out of poverty. BeadforLife began with a chance encounter between the charity founders and Millie Grace Akena while walking through a crowded Ugandan slum. They saw Millie sitting on the ground outside of her mud home rolling small strips of paper into colorful beads. Realizing this was an opportunity for Millie and many other Ugandan women to make a living, they took the beads back to the United States and started to sell them on behalf of the women.

How beads bring joy to Uganda

Seeking a partner to help fund a pilot initiative around putting ox plows into the communities, BeadforLife partnered with SDL to provide funding for 12 sets of plows and oxen in 2011-2012, Women began to receive training in agricultural practices, animal husbandry and plowing. Members receiving oxen agreed to repay the initial loan with the results of their harvests over an 18 month time period, providing seed funding to expand the program and enable the next group of women to access plows. By providing these women more efficient ways to farm they can make more money and better provide for their families future, and by doing so break the cycle of poverty.

Beads to Business program

New ComponentBeadforLife has always believed in providing sustainable pathways for women to change their own lives and climb out of poverty. For this reason, they have set up Street Business School training to help these women start their own small businesses, create systems to help them save money to launch the business, and provide coaching and mentoring to help them identify opportunities and challenges. Funding from the SDL Foundation covered the 6-month entrepreneurial training component of the Beads to Business program for 58 women. During their tenure with BeadforLife these women learned the skills necessary to become successful entrepreneurs in their own local economies.


SDL Feels Honored

Scope of activities "We are grateful to SDL for the incredible support to make this project happen. Without this grant, we would not have been able to test this new idea and launch a new program initiative that has the potential to touch thousands of lives. We hope you feel as proud as we do of the successes of this project and the impact you have had on the lives of people in Uganda."

SDL Bead Parties

Bead Parties

SDL employees in Superior, Maidenhead, Sheffield, Wakefield, Tokyo, Chicago, San Jose, Seattle and Stuttgart all held bead parties in December 2013 on behalf of BeadforLife. They sold a whopping $6200 worth of bead jewellery and raised awareness of the charity and the SDL Foundation’s involvement.
The SDL employees followed this up in December 2014 and this time 13 offices took part.  
Alecia McClure, Customer Care Specialist at BeadforLife, says: “For the second year, SDL offices around the world hosted Marketplace events for BeadforLife, a non-profit organization working to provide entrepreneurial skills to women in Uganda. Sales are still coming in to BeadforLife, but the fundraiser is expected to raise over $5,000 for the organization.  This, especially when added to the $7,000 raised at the previous holiday sale, makes a real difference to improve lives of women and their families.  BeadforLife sincerely thanks the employees of SDL for their support and looks forward to continuing the partnership (which over the years has included grants from the SDL foundation used to acquire ox plows for farming cooperatives in Northern Uganda.)” 
BeadForLife Stories
Read more stories about some of the Woman who have benefitted from BeadforLife
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The SDL Foundation is committed to supporting sustainable development for communities across the globe sponsored by SDL employees.
The SDL Foundation
To provide support for sustainable, structural development that improves the quality of life for disadvantaged communities around the globe.
We believe every woman has within her a spark of purpose, possibility and pride. At BeadforLife, we ignite opportunities for women living on less t...