Bureh belts are made in Sierra Leone and inspire employment and entrepreneurship in the country.
By investing half of all profits into local West African start-ups, Bureh strives to create a culture where stable businesses and stable jobs are born.
The buckle is handmade from recycled car parts
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When Bureh Co-Founder Dan Heyman needed a belt last minute, he didn’t expect it to inspire a fashion-forward, socially conscious movement.
Launched this past fall, Bureh now inspires employment and entrepreneurship across Sierra Leone, an African country otherwise lacking in self-start-up and westernized business opportunities. In doing so, Bureh hopes to create a system that reinforces the work they already do for the production line, fostering widespread success and a culture of entrepreneurship for Sierra Leonean people.
Dan’s spur of the moment fashion fix-up sparked demand for Bureh’s colorfully patterned (and Sierra Leone-made) belts. Bureh strives to empower Sierra Leone by teaching her people self-employment. They train, and later employ, citizens to be skilled craftsmen. Tailors receive training, but of a slightly unconventional kind. They’re instructed on western consumer expectations, so work is utmost in quality and ready for a stereotypical US market. When higher margin jobs aren’t available, Bureh provides jobs and steady wages for otherwise demand-driven tailor and blacksmith jobs. In this way, the company works to ensure stability. Workers can invest in their workshops, health care, and – most importantly – their families. As a sustainable company, Bureh does more than employ one person. They encapsulate what parents are trying to do – invest in kids’ educations and provide a family-feeding job.
“Sierra Leone has a lot of potential and a very negative narrative right now,” co-founder Dan said. “But Bureh can create conversation about them in a positive light. We talk about the fashion sense that exists across Sierra Leone, not blood diamonds.” Africa boasts the highest share of self-employed people globally. But instead of farmers or road-side merchants, Bureh shapes larger scale, western-esque success stories. By investing half of all profits into local West African start-ups, Bureh further extends their mission of entrepreneurial empowerment. “We want to supply employment and entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone, and not as an afterthought,” Dan said. “We think we can significantly impact private sector growth, where there’s tremendous potential. We want to create long term systems where stable businesses and stable jobs are born.” Although Bureh’s creative, locally produced belts may seem their central concert, they would disagree. “Our business is growth. And we see ourselves as one small step to filling the western world funding gap for countries like Sierra Leone.”