Brittany Underwood is the founder and CEO of Akola in Uganda and Dallas, Texas. Akola is a verb meaning “to work” and the company is a hybrid of a non-profit and a business that benefits the women who make the jewelry.Underwood grew up in Atlanta and moved to Dallas in 2002 to attend college at SMU. After volunteering to teach in western Uganda during a summer of college, Underwood’s eyes were opened to extreme poverty. She was inspired to raise money to build an orphanage after she met a woman named Sarah in the local community who housed 24 orphans in her house. Underwood moved to Uganda after she graduated in order to oversee the construction of the orphanage.
She met more and more women who had a passion to help children but just needed more money to do so. And so the Akola project was born. The project started with 15 women and by 2010, there were 200 women in the program in six different communities. Almost half of the Akola resources go to the social educational programs that accompany the economic opportunities.
Underwood moved back to Dallas in 2012 and learned that there are women struggling in her own city who could not find jobs to sustain themselves and their families. Through launching the Akola jewelry line in all Neiman Marcus stores nationwide, these women are now able to make a living wage from their work.
Akola has a flagship store in Dallas and the company is actively pursuing growth in order to help and empower more women.
At Cadillac, we celebrate those whose passion and vision have reshaped our city, our lives and our culture - including Brittany Underwood’s courage and selflessness to empower struggling women.
Her continuous passion makes her one of the dedicated and driving persons shaping Dallas/Fort Worth.