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Tradeaid integrated

TradeAID, handcrafts, Ghana (producer)

Established at the turn of the millennium, TradeAID Integrated is a not-for-profit organisation working with 65 basket weaver groups in the Bolgatanga area of the Upper East Region of Ghana. Due to the hot and dry climate, the land is difficult to farm and so the majority of the population relies on handcrafts to make a living.

Furthermore, the impact of climate change has caused straw to be low quality and at times difficult to source. As this is the predominant raw material of the basket industry, it can cause major problems.

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STORIES OF SOLIDARITY AND SUCCESS

Nicholas Apokerah founded the organisation after researching the role of basket weavers in Ghana whilst at university and discovering that they were earning 20% less than the final retail price of their baskets. They began working with 255 weavers, formalising them into 17 groups and providing training to become internationally competitive. 

In 2014, Shared Interest provided TradeAID with finance to buy a truck. The following year, the region was affected by erratic rainfall, which led to reduced availability of straw for basket making. TradeAID established a straw farm (known as the ‘Straw Bank’) to mitigate this situation. Nicholas explained: “It made straw readily available to weavers and much of it is still in operation at the weavers’ level.” 

In 2017, basket weavers were facing challenges meeting orders and further finance from Shared Interest was used to purchase new production tools and equipment, which made a huge difference to productivity. 

Akumbosco Modesta has been a basket weaver for the past ten years. She describes herself as ‘the bridge between TradeAID and the communities they work in.’ 

She said: “TradeAID came into the community to buy the baskets directly from the weavers at a good price and the weavers have their money straight away.” 

Supporting 1,625 producer artisans (90% women) the organisation has helped the weavers form co-operatives, which has led to developing partnerships with international companies such as SERVV International (also a Shared Interest customer) who order up to 5,000 baskets each year. 

The impact of Covid-19 has meant that sales reduced by approximately 30% between 2019 and 2020, caused by a reduction in orders from some of their larger buyers. Nevertheless, TradeAID launched a community initiative to supply sanitiser and facemasks. They also extended their support to 199 new producers within the basket weaving community, helping them increase production volumes and engage in soilless farming so that they are not solely reliant on basket production.

This latest project sees them working with our charitable arm Shared Interest Foundation. Our in-country partners will support 120 basket weavers to establish a vegetable farm without the use of soil, using readily available local resources including sawdust and rice husks. These materials have the ability to retain water from a sustainable source and release nutrients for the plants’ growth. Nicholas said: “Shared Interest is key to the survival of producers, and UK investors should see their investment as a vital contribution to people’s livelihoods.”

Read the full longitudinal case study of TradeAID Integrated here

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