Twenty-three-year-old Mabel Stuglo launched the sustainable and humanitarian EcoShoe Project in Ghana in 2013, performing environmental and socio-economic feats by collecting disposed-of car tires, fabric remnants, and other found materials and transforming them into wearable works of art. The business employs disabled artisans who other companies won’t hire, trains them, and sets them on the path to financially independence.
Mabel was inspired to build a business utilizing disabled employees after noticing that disabled people were treated unfairly and considered a burden to their families. Tragically, they are often perceived as having nothing to contribute to society. But in reality, they can blossom into creative and productive artisans.
EcoShoe’s vision is “To build the capacity of artisans with disabilities who lack the skills and knowledge necessary to create wealth from their vocations by maximizing their career potential and tak[ing] steps towards their long term financial and personal well-being,“ said Mabel.
Mabel also wants“…to build a community of conscious consumers with a forward-thinking team who believe re-using and recycling can turn trash into treasure.”
The extraordinary, colorful purses they create testify to her success in accomplishing just that.
EcoShoes shoes and sandals are ultra fashionable — and fun, with dynamic color schemes. No one would imagine that the stylish pieces were once headed to the junkyard.
Mabel was honored with the coveted Anzisha Prize, which recognizes young entrepreneurs who use innovative ideas to solve social issues or open thriving businesses in their communities. Recipients of the Anzisha Prize receive ongoing support to help grow their companies.
Mabel’s business is a model for other organizations devoted to sustainability and employing people who are too often passed over in the job market. And really — those are some amazing shoes!