At just 16 years old, YELI founder Andrew Mupuya recognized a need in the Ugandan market for paper bags. The Ugandan government had recently discussed banning plastic bags to alleviate plastic pollution that results in environmental degradation. Starting Yeli with just $14 in 2008, Mupuya now employs more than 50 locals at his growing business.
Businesses that are locally owned, like YELI, most often end up paying employees fair wages as there isn’t some CEO overseas collecting a huge salary. Rather than outsourcing to the cheapest manufacturer out there like many megacorporations, locally owned businesses employ locals in the area, aiding in steady job creation to help lift people out of poverty. Additionally, YELI makes a majority of its products from recycled paper and promotes the importance of reusing and recycling as much as possible.
Plastic bags never really biodegrade, they just break into smaller and smaller pieces (microplastics) polluting our waters and creating the possibility of health problems. Paper bags, alternatively, are recyclable and compostable, an eco-friendly option for carrying things that won’t pollute our planet eternally.