Startup Stories: Soko, Connecting Online Consumers to Global Artisans

Gwendolyn Floyd, Soko Founder

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Soko is the online destination for shoppers to discover stunning handcrafted accessories from all over the world and purchase them directly from their designers. We’re revolutionizing international trade by providing artisans with mobile tools to access global markets, without the need for a computer or a bank account.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I co-founded Soko with Ella Peinovich and Catherine Mahugu in 2011 after recognizing a global need, as well as a global opportunity, to disrupt the systemic patterns of poverty found across the developing world’s creative economy. Working in bottom of the pyramid communities around the world, we were inspired to develop a solution to the disconnect between the incredible cultural value of the goods artisans make and the disproportionality small amount of money they can earn from these goods. We realized that by leveraging pervasive technology and existing infrastructure in an innovative way, we could create a platform to enable any talented artisan to participate in international trade.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Soko provides solutions that can be summarized in three words – Innovation, Style, and Impact.

Innovation: Soko developed a unique, new technology platform whereby, using just a simple mobile phone, artisans from around the world can post and sell their products online, even if they do not have access to a computer, or a bank account. We’re continuing to build mobile tools to help artisans manage their businesses.

Style: Soko helps fashion a better world by bringing you the opportunity to dazzle your wardrobe with stylish, ethically produced accessories. All of the jewelry on Soko is made by hand out of locally sourced, regional, and oftentimes upcycled materials. Not only are the creations unique and exquisite, they demonstrate the resourcefulness of our artisans and encourage a sustainable future.

Impact: Soko provides a way for artisans to improve their livelihoods by accessing a global consumer base and removing the middlemen. We work directly with the artisans, via initiatives such as technical training and sponsoring of microfinance loans, to empower them to grow their businesses and ensuring a majority of the profits stay with the artisans and in the local community.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
One of our biggest challenges, but also a great opportunity, has been the need for capacity building in working with our artisans. We have to build the ladder in order to reach the height of our goals. We are climbing from the bottom rungs, but it’s exciting to have our business grow alongside our artisans’, many of whom now have the mobile technology to create and manage personal online storefronts.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
Innovative.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
Startup Stories inspire me while reminding me of the incredible community of female entrepreneurs that I am a part of!

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Forming strong relationships in all aspects of our business has been key to making Soko a sustainable success. The close partnerships we have with our artisans, banks, telecommunications companies, and marketing channels are invaluable.

Company: Soko

Website: http://www.shopsoko.com

Follow my organization on social media here:
@shop_soko
https://www.facebook.com/ShopSoko
shopsoko.tumblr.com, http://www.pinterest.com/shopsoko/, instagram.com/shopsoko
Please submit your story to the largest archive of entrepreneurial startup stories in the world so, together, we can motivate women in business to think beyond traditional boundaries, support one another, embrace change and view challenges as opportunities. Whether you are a small business owner, a freelancer, a serial entrepreneur, own an online business, operate a storefront on Main Street, or even moonlight with an amateur blog our 500,000+ community would like to hear your Startup Story! Answer seven short questions to create a blog of your story today!

36 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

  2. My brother suggested I may like this website. He was entirely right. This submit truly made my day. You can not imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  3. hi!,I love your writing so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence more about your article on AOL? I require a specialist in this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you! Having a look forward to look you.

  4. Great goods from you, man. I have remember your stuff prior to and you are simply too magnificent. I really like what you’ve bought here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which through which you say it. You make it entertaining and you continue to take care of to stay it smart. I cant wait to learn far more from you. This is actually a wonderful site.

  5. 341297 162058Spot ill carry on with this write-up, I truly believe this web site requirements a fantastic deal much more consideration. Ill oftimes be once much more to see far far more, numerous thanks that information. 251502

  6. 734381 374189Pretty section of content material. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get truly enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I is going to be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently swiftly. 109327

  7. In these days of austerity along with relative anxiousness about running into debt, many individuals balk about the idea of employing a credit card in order to make purchase of merchandise or perhaps pay for any occasion, preferring, instead just to rely on the particular tried along with trusted method of making settlement – cash. However, if you have the cash on hand to make the purchase in whole, then, paradoxically, this is the best time for them to use the cards for several reasons.

  8. One other thing I would like to state is that instead of trying to suit all your online degree programs on days that you complete work (considering that people are exhausted when they get back), try to receive most of your sessions on the saturdays and sundays and only a couple of courses for weekdays, even if it means a little time off your saturdays. This is really good because on the week-ends, you will be far more rested along with concentrated in school work. Thanks alot : ) for the different suggestions I have mastered from your weblog.

  9. Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success. If you know of any please share. Kudos!

  10. Thanks for your posting. I have continually observed that most people are needing to lose weight because they wish to show up slim in addition to looking attractive. Having said that, they do not often realize that there are many benefits to losing weight as well. Doctors claim that overweight people are afflicted with a variety of diseases that can be instantly attributed to the excess weight. The great thing is that people who are overweight in addition to suffering from various diseases can reduce the severity of the illnesses by way of losing weight. You possibly can see a progressive but identifiable improvement with health as soon as even a bit of a amount of fat loss is reached.

  11. 197567 89505Oh my goodness! an excellent post dude. A lot of thanks Even so We are experiencing dilemma with ur rss . Dont know why Not able to sign up to it. Could there be anybody obtaining identical rss dilemma? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 803089

  12. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It actually was once a entertainment account it. Glance complicated to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we be in contact?

  13. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here