UPDATED: RoHo Garners Business of the Year Honor from Women’s Economic Ventures

Caliegh Hernandez, center, is founder of RoHo.

The Santa Barbara-based socially conscious imported shoe and accessory company RoHo has won the 2019 Women’s Economic Ventures Best Business of the Year Award at the Empowerment is Priceless event Oct. 25..  

In an email, Roho founder Caleigh Hernandez said, “It’s been an incredible year. It’s with great pride that today we announce that RoHo was awarded the Business of the Year by Women’s Economic Ventures.”

In May, RoHo won the Successful Women Giving Back Award from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.

RoHo, which is a Swahili word for kindness and spirit, said Hernandez, 26, a San Marcos High School and Northwestern University graduate. 

“We are continuing to make a significant global impact on the lives of our 400 artisans and their families,” Hernandez said. “I hope you keep us in mind as you prepare for the holiday season. We are thrilled about a number of new products to be showcased in the upcoming weeks.”

Her company initially imported stylish leather and beaded shoes and sandals from Kenya that were made by highly skilled artisans who were able to support themselves and their families with the export sales. Hernandez said the company expanded its line to include scarves, jewelry, belts and other items.  

“It’s a hub for ethical fashions and quality-made goods from Africa and other parts of the world,” Hernandez said. “We want to honor people for their crafts and to help them support their families.”  

She and her mother, Lindsay McTavish, now work together in Santa Barbara and with 36 women and six men in Kenya who make the products the company sells.  

Hernandez has experience working in development in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, where she discovered artisans who designed and made leather shoes. She recognized that those making the shoes were mostly female. 

 Her company was founded on artisans being paid a fair wage and empowering women, which is important to community growth and curbing poverty. For more information about the company, see LoveRoHo.com

WEV raised more than $220,000 to support local entrepreneurs at its Empowerment is Priceless event at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. The nonprofit’s 14th annual breakfast fundraiser also recognized WEV’s 2019 Trailblazer and Volunteer of the Year award winners. 300 guests interacted with featured WEV clients who shared their personal experiences as entrepreneurs and how their businesses have evolved with the support of WEV’S business training, consulting and loan programs.

Each year, WEV presents the Trailblazer Award to a woman who is a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers. WEV honored Marianne Partridge, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Santa Barbara Independent who was also the first female senior editor of Rolling Stone Magazine

“She was a maverick in her field, a feminist who challenged the establishment and changed the paradigm in the field of journalism,” said Gary Hopkins, Pacific Western Bank senior vice president, who introduced Partridge at the event and talked about the six women she mentored at Rolling Stone  who were eventually added to the iconic magazine’s masthead.

Andy Winchester, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Private Bank and co-vice chair of WEV’s Board of Directors, was honored as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Winchester, who also serves on WEV’s Endowment and Loan Review Committee, thanked Wells Fargo for providing more than $1.4 million to WEV business training programs and resiliency grants that support vital economic empowerment in the region.

For 28 years, WEV has been working to help women entrepreneurs succeed. “Nearly three decades later, we have proven that business ownership can provide not only a viable pathway out of poverty, but can also build family wealth and stability, as well as contribute to the economic well-being of our communities,” said WEV founder and CEO Marsha Bailey.

Sponsors of the 2019 Empowerment is Priceless event included: Pacific Western Bank, Trusted Legal, Wells Fargo, City National Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, La Arcada Courtyard, LinkedIn, and Ventura County Credit Union.

Proceeds raised will benefit WEV client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties including: Smart Entrepreneurial Training, Thrive®, WEV en Español and the WEV Loan Program.

Posted Oct. 25, 2019. Updated Oct. 30, 2019.

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