Forbes recently profiled Class of 2002 graduate and founder of the Akola jewelry brand, Brittany Merrill Underwood.
Brittany founded Akola in 2006 when she was a sophomore at Southern Methodist University. After meeting a Ugandan woman who cared for 24 street children in her home, Brittany was inspired to act and discovered that by training and employing women who are deemed “unemployable” in their communities, and guaranteeing them a monthly income, Akola could care for thousands of children.
The nonprofit currently employs 500 women in Uganda and Dallas, Texas to handcraft jewelry. One hundred percent of the revenue goes toward helping the women transform their families and communities. Akola provides training, dependable living-wage work opportunities, and holistic education programs to the women. Additionally, Akola relies on donations to provide social programs that teach women how to use their income to create meaningful change.
The Akola line is now carried in Neiman Marcus stores and on the Home Shopping Network.
Earlier this year, Brittany was named one of the "World's 10 Top CEOs" by Inc. magazine.