Victoria Orr lives in Hexham Northumberland and is the founder of Amandla Ubuntu.
Having previously held a position as a C-Level Executive in an education charity, and a handful of global leadership positions at big corporates such as Amazon and Marriott, Victoria realised she needed to do something more fulfilling. She took out her first loan with Start Up Loans in June 2021 for £5,000, alongside £7,000 of her own savings, and then at the end of the year, she took out a second loan of £6,000 (tranche loan with an opportunity to use an additional £4,000).
She used the loan to launch Amandla Ubuntu, a social enterprise aiming to showcase art, textiles and fashion hand-crafted by female South African artists.
At the heart of the venture was the desire to do more for the millions of women in her native South Africa suffering from gender-based violence. As such, she partnered with the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Cape Town, an NGO that funds gender equality education, and provides support to survivors of gender-based violence and their children.
“As a passionate feminist and proud South African, I wanted to launch something that really made a difference to women. I launched Amandla Ubuntu with the help of a Start Up Loan, as a social enterprise selling South African arts & crafts that provide sustainable incomes to artists and crafters in their communities. Each purchase also supports survivors of gender-based violence at the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Cape Town.
“The initial loan funds were invaluable in helping me get up and running – I used them to build up my website, purchase initial stock, trial various advertising and marketing options, and a stand for a trade show to showcase the products. The level of support I received when applying for my second loan was fantastic and is something I didn’t feel I’d get from other lenders. I used it to pay for additional exhibition display stands, a photography light studio and new stock, which made a huge difference to my sales in the run up to the festive holidays.”
The name Amandla Ubuntu is a wink to the brand’s mission statement. Amandla means “strength” and “power” in both Zulu and Xhosa, two of South Africa’s largest language groups. Once the rallying cry of Apartheid resistance, it is now used to describe perseverance, resilience, and refusing to give up in the face of adversity. Similarly, the word “Ubuntu,” coined by the late Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu means “we are stronger as one.”
Find out more about Amandla Ubuntu here.