It all began when RoHo founder, Caleigh Hernandez, fell in love with a pair of beautiful beaded leather sandals in a craft market in East Africa. She brought several for herself and her mom. They were so impressed with these sandals; they began a year-long quest to find something similar in quality in the area, which led them to coastal Kenya.
RoHo’s products are handmade by over 400 artisans in Kenya, with over 95% of women. The line includes beautiful beaded leather sandals, cowhide rugs and pillows, Binga baskets, jewelry, and more. The company strives to use what they sell to break the cycle of poverty by helping people help themselves. RoHo sandal artisans are paid 50% higher than the industry standard, and they are currently providing 16 education grants to send their artisans’ children to quality local schools. They also ensure 100% of their artisans are above 18 years old.
RoHo is Swahili for ‘kindness and spirit,’ which is something the company is striving for. Since it’s formation, they have been recognized for their work and this kindness as well. They have won several awards and accolades for our efforts. These include the Spirit of Entrepreneurship’s 2019 Giving Back Award, Women’s Economic Ventures’ 2019 Business of the Year, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) ‘s 2019 Entrepreneur to Watch, and Pacific Coast Business Times’ 2019 Think Global Award.
RoHo’s Various Missions
Kenya has a population of 44 million people, and over 40% live below the poverty line. Unemployment rates are high, especially amongst women and other marginalized groups. Consistent and fair paying work is even harder to come by. RoHo has partnered with four artisan groups across Kenya to create consistent, proper paying work for our artisans, most of whom are women.
“At RoHo, we aim to bring about meaningful change through beautiful products,” Ms. Hernandez said. “I witnessed cyclical poverty because people are stuck in their relative positions while working for nonprofits across East Africa.”
According to RoHo, providing quality jobs to skilled artisans is key to supporting community development. An employment for their artisans means more than just a paycheck—it creates opportunities and stability in a household and a chance to invest in the futures of the artisans’ children.
“We asked our original artisan group, the sandal makers based in Malindi, Kenya, how we could better serve them,” Ms. Hernandez explained. “They responded that lack of quality education was one of the largest contributors to poverty in the area, so we decided to provide educational opportunities for their children.”
“We also control international distributions for a Fair Trade group of 280 Maasai women in the south of Kenya,” Ms. Hernandez continued. “There’s already a nonprofit operating in the area Africa Schools of Kenya (ASK), that provides scholarships for local children. So we have partnered with ASK to offer scholarships to