BeadforLife bead makers


This trade relationship is currently not active.


Profile of CONTIGO´s partner BeadforLife


Recycled jewellery made out of paper


Kampala to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Kampala, Uganda – distance to Europe: 6,100km

Founded in 2004


  • 2004: NGO BeadforLife founded by Torkin Wakefield, Devin Hibbard, Ginny Jordan, and Millie Grace Akena from Uganda
  • Founders inspired by the bead makers in the slums of Kampala
  • BeadforLife teams established in:
  1. Kampala/Uganda
  2. Boulder, Co./USA
  3. Montpellier/France (started in 2009)
  • 2009: CONTIGO meets BeadforLife

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2010

Structure of the organisation

Number of employees:

  • 390 seamstresses and bead makers
  • 540 employees employed by these bead makers
  • 2,880 people derive their livelihood (directly and indirectly) from the craft

Organisation of workforce:

  • BeadforLife is an NGO
  • Members are organised into 5 groups with 85 members each
  • Members receive orders from BeadforLife twice a month
  • Members are mainly young mothers, disabled people, widows, people misplaced by war, and people infected with HIV
  • New members are recruited through visits to the slums and HIV centres


Exports (100%) to Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, England, and Belgium


  • To alleviate extreme poverty
  • To special help for/recognition of women
  • To create and save jobs

Special features

  • Social engagement in Uganda:
    • Rural development programmes
    • Programmes for teenagers with HIV/AIDS (Power of Hope)
    • Collecting donations for medical treatment of refugees in northern Uganda
    • Sponsoring the costs for paediatric chemotherapy (children’s cancer charity Uganda)
    • Payment of a bed in the International Hospital of Kampala to treat emergency cases
  • Organisation of BeadParties (USA, England, France): selling paper jewellery and informing attendees of the work in Uganda
  • 100% of net earnings are invested in projects serving communal well being

Why does CONTIGO work with BeadforLife: BfL enjoys a good international reputation. They have transformed from a NGO into a economically self-sustaining project. The future prospects for the partnership are great.


Fairtrade classification

FTA= Fairtrade in Progress, a visit in Uganda has not taken place as yet.


Fairtrade aspects


BeadforLife complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV

Fair wages

  • Average wage at BeadforLife: US $275

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 15-35 hours/week

Social benefits:

  • Malaria testing and treatment
  • Free HIV tests for all employees and children
  • Health training
  • Partial payment of mosquito nets, contraception, and glasses
  • Support for employees to found their own businesses (including training for starting a business, help with creating custom savings plan, and accessing financial help)
  • House building program targeted at the bead makers

Educational opportunities:

  • Start-up trainings for women so they can launch own business
  • Work orientation programme for teenagers from poor families
  • Classes on health (prevention and treatment)
  • Training:
    • Duration: 27 months
    • Month 1 to 2: learn beading and basics for production of necklaces
    • Month 3: courses on saving money, family planning, health
    • From month 6: training in starting a business
    • After 13 months: collecting first practical experiences in starting and running a small business
    • After 27 months: the women should be independent from the organisation and running their own business


  • Payroll is available
  • Pay slips are available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO



  • Member of:
    • Fair Trade Federation (FTO)


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Uganda



10 years of BeadforLife





Stories of success:

Grace Aol, 49: “I was afraid to hold a pen, but the literacy classes let that fear disappear.”


Fatina Apio is happy that she can dance in a circle, as it is custom in Uganda, with other members of Bead for Life. They celebrate their new lives without poverty together.


Shalila Musa is a great example for women that gain increasing independence due to technology: “I am happy that I am registered with Mobile Money. I can withdraw money in many places and if my purse ever gets stolen I can withdraw money and continue with my business. I also use it to pay the school fees at Bushenuyi for my son.”



Author: Janina Lange on 30. October 2018

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