Our Entrepreneurs

Akola Project

Brittany Underwood & Emily Heger

Brittany Underwood founded the Akola Project in 2004 to make an extraordinary impact by sustainably transforming the lives of 1,600 impoverished women and children. Brittany has been featured on internationally on CNN, she was awarded the distinguished Emerging Leader Award from SMU in 2013, and has been honored by clothing manufacturer Levi as one of 50 women around the globe who have changed the political, cultural, and spiritual shape of the future. Underwood completed a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2013 and continues to devote herself to improving the lives of women and children as the Founder and President of the Akola Project. In 2014, she will receive the Young Leader Award from the Dallas Women's Foundation, join the elite mentoring class for the Laura Bush Women’s Initiative, and is slated to appear on the Katie Couric Show for her work in Uganda and vision for empowering women in Dallas, TX. 



Emily served as the Chief Operating Officer of Akola Project until 2017 when she left to attend law school at Southern Methodist University. She has a B.A. in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Akola in 2013, Emily worked as a Marketing Director for Chick-fil-A to provide business development and then as a strategic lead at The Richards Group for clients totaling $12 million in annual media billings. During her career in marketing, Emily sought to use her business skills in the social enterprise sector, starting with helping to launch Noonday Collection, a rising social business, and then with TivaWater, a non-profit and social business to expand their reach in Northern Uganda. Emily’s range of strategic experience developing innovative solutions in both the non-profit and business world enabled her to effectively run the US-based non-profit and social business operations of Akola Project while with the team.

Akola Project is a nonprofit with a high fashion jewelry business that weaves together best practices in economic development, education, and ministry to create a sustainable, integrated and holistic impact in impoverished communities. Akola jewelry collections have retailed in over 350 boutiques and department stores nationwide. 100% of Akola product revenues and donations are reinvested in Akola's social mission to train, employ, and empower over 400 women to become agents of change in the lives of over 4,000 children across the globe. Akola believes in a full solution to poverty and provides robust programming that equips women to become stronger spiritual leaders, caretakers and business entrepreneurs. Akola's innovative approach has been featured on the likes of the Today Show, Katie Couric, Christianity Today, Entrepreneur and Fox Small Business.