The straw basket and handbag makers of northern Ghana are drawing a lot of attention lately– enough, in fact, that two of my clients have each sent me to the region on separate occasions in recent months to get a close up glimpse of these fashionable totes. The groups that make them have banded together in cooperatives in order to buy supplies in bulk and save and lend amongst each other. Some groups have even managed to find financial backing and gain certified Fair Trade status, which would explain why Shared Interest, a fair trade investment firm, sent me there to capture these entrepreneurs at work. The colorful hand bags and baskets are crafted by groups of women using straw that is first rolled and split with their teeth, then dyed in vibrant colors before being woven into intricate patterns by hand. It’s a tradition that’s long been passed down through the[…]Read More
Post Tagged with: "ghana"
Until recently the northern Ghanaian district of East Mamprusi had the poorest maternal and child health indicators in the region. Most women gave birth at home, and while this may sound very trendy in our society, in theirs the reason was not a matter of choice, but for lack of transportation to a health facility. With home births there were no skilled supervisors to assist in deliveries. To make things more complicated, traditional beliefs and practices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth also often inhibited women and children from accessing good health care. For instance, in cases of complicated labor, a soothsayer would be consulted to pour libations in supplication to the spirits or ancestors, rather than seeking help from a health professional. After birth, one of the first things a child may ingest is a concoction made by the traditional healer, often made with contaminated water. How did Catholic Relief Services turn the statistics upside down and make East Mamprusi the[…]Read More
Want to make some extra cash while giving a boost to markets in the developing world? Shared Interest lends capital to fair trade buyer and producer organizations in areas of the world that have limited access to finance. Because they only invest in Fair Trade businesses, that means living wages, better working conditions, and often benefits for workers like health care and education for their children. For many of us in the West, starting a business without the help of a bank would be impossible. Those in the developing world face this challenge and more when beginning a new venture. Yet developing economies will never improve without the expansion of the free market; this can only happen through improving the environment in which business can operate and gain access to capital. This makes the work of companies like Shared Interest all the more crucial. Microfinance this is not; Shared Interest[…]Read More