Prosperity Update

News and stories from Global Mamas

Krobo Dreams Become Reality

By Therese Edwards & Susan Kimber

Krobo Dreams Become Reality

At long last, our dreams of a second Global Mamas location were realized with the opening of our operations in Krobo in August 2006. Thanks to the hard work and diligence of many of our volunteers and Mandy Sage - who heads the Krobo location - we are now able to offer our international trade program and services to the talented bead workers of Krobo.

 

Bead making is one of the primary livelihoods in the Somanya/Odumase area of Ghana's Eastern Region. This industry has existed in the local economy for centuries and is still a primary source of income for many families. The technique used to make glass beads in hand made clay molds has been used in Ghana since at least the early 18th century, although today many bead makers have adapted their technique to use recycled glass. Krobo beads are widely known for their vibrant colors and high level of craftsmanship, but export opportunities for small producers, especially women, are extremely limited.

 

Most of the bead making businesses are small and family owned with the workshop located on the family compound. In many of the businesses, women play a major role in the bead production carrying out tasks from heating/forming the glass to designing/painting. Women also take the lead in doing the majority of the sale/marketing of the beads. These small bead-making businesses find themselves in a cycle of dependence on larger bead wholesalers. These wholesalers buy the beads from the producers in the house at low rates and then sell the beads to customers at higher rates, acquiring most of the profits. It is difficult for the small bead producers to break out of this cycle of dependency since they do not have the capital to produce larger quantities of beads or travel to larger markets to sell to the end customers at higher prices. The small-scale bead makers need a way to join forces with other producers to increase production capacity as a group, learn how to design and produce finished products, seek larger export customers and receive fair wages for beads produced.

 

By replicating the Global Mamas Co-operative model to the Eastern Region, WIP will be able to bring its services to an underserved community. By helping local bead makers and handicraft producers to expand their businesses and gain access to the global marketplace, WIP's programs create growth not only for the businesses in the Co-operative, but also for the community as a whole.

 

If successful with this expansion, WIP will be able to franchise our program to other communities so that they can model their operations after the successes in Cape Coast and Krobo.

 

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Global Mamas at Magic Kids

By Therese Edwards

Global Mamas was thrilled to be presenting their line of hand-made apparel for babies and kids for the first time at MAGIC Kids in Las Vegas, NV in August 2006. Global Mamas supplies the international marketplace with unique, high-quality, African made apparel and at the same time provides sustainable livelihoods for women and girls in Africa.

 

MAGIC International is the world's largest and most widely recognized trade show in the apparel industry and brings together a global audience of buyers and sellers of apparel and accessories for men, women, and children. With over 100,000 attendees and 3,300 exhibitors, attendance at the MAGIC show is key to gaining exposure and to finding new customers for any brand.

Global Mamas was pleased both to have a booth at the MAGIC Kids exhibition and also to be showcased in the MAGIC fashion show. MAGIC Kids features the most diverse collection of apparel, footwear, accessories and gifts for the childrenswear industry. Our exciting line of bright, colorful, hand-made children's clothing stood out among the crowd and attracted buyers from all over the globe.

 

Global Mamas receives rave reviews from its customers, which include children's clothing stores, zoos, museums, and gift shops. Judy Steele, owner of Wild Child Boutique in Evanston, IL has been carrying the Global Mamas line since it's inception. Steele noted, "Our customers purchase Global Mamas products first and foremost because of the bright colors and unique designs. That said, more and more of my customers are asking questions about where and how our products are made. It is a delight to offer them Global Mamas' products with the fair trade seal of approval."

 

"Global Mamas helped me pay advance rent on my house so I would not be evicted. My children can go to school again because I can pay for their school fees," says Gifty Saah, one of the Global Mamas. Elizabeth Ampiah of Eli-Emma Batik still can't believe her work is being sold so successfully in the US. "When I think of children in the USA wearing our monkey t-shirt or reptile cloth I feel so proud of our accomplishments," notes Ampiah.

 

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Women in Progress holds Fundraiser in Washington D.C.

By Mandy Sage

Women in Progress holds Fundraiser in Washington D.C.

Women in Progress had its first major fundraising event on April 8, 2006 at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington D.C. Organized by former WIP volunteer Emilie Kimball and her parents Phil and Kathy, along with the help of Brooke Olster and many other past volunteers, the fundraiser spread the word about Women in Progress while celebrating in Ghanaian fashion.

 

Guests enjoyed traditional Ghanaian food and drink, kindly provided by the Ghana Café, and were entertained by the Anasegromma of the Ghana dance and drumming group. In his speech, Ghanaian Ambassador Fritz Poku commented on the work ethic of 16 year-old Emilie Kimball, calling her "his hero." Emilie also spoke and hosted a small fashion show displaying some of the newest Global Mamas designs. And finally, WIP co-founder Kristin Johnson spoke on the continued growth and success of the organization, sharing some of the incredible statistics achieved by Women in Progress in the past three years. A short video on WIP was shown, giving guests a view of what life is like in Ghana and introducing them to a few of the Global Mamas. They were delighted by the grinning faces and touched by the success stories, evident by the outbursts of laughter and warm smiles throughout the audience.

 

Thanks to the kind donations of its guests, Women in Progress raised over $15,000 at this event. But the event was not just about raising funds, it was about opening hearts as well. "Not only did we raise money, but we also raised awareness that will continue to support WIP for years to come," said co-organizer Brooke Olster. "We should all be extremely proud of ourselves. I am amazed by the amount of positive responses we received for the work we contributed to in Ghana and how interested everyone was in learning more."

 

Proceeds from the event will go to buying a large amount of cotton calico fabric in bulk so that a better rate and assured quality is obtained. The calico will be placed in a revolving loan fund so members of the Global Mamas cooperative are able to buy better quality calico at a discounted price into the future.

 

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Fair Trade for Global Mamas

By Therese Edwards

Fair Trade for Global Mamas

In the fall of 2005, Global Mamas, underwent a thorough examination of our practices by the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) and we are happy to announce that we have been recognized as a fair trade organization and can proudly display the fair trade symbol on all of our products!

 

Global Mamas develops and supports almost 150 women in small businesses through export of their hand-made apparel and jewelry. Profits generated from sales go directly back to the women in Ghana and support the non-profit programs that help them to expand their businesses. To ensure that the women of Global Mamas understand what it means to be fair trade, a curriculum was developed by volunteers. Each Global Mama receives a personal session on fair trade and check ups are done regularly to ensure compliance and to answer any questions that crop up.

 

According to the FTF, sixty to seventy percent of the artisans providing fair trade hand-crafted products are women. Often these women are mothers and the sole wage earners in the home. Global Mamas mission is to help reduce the economic inequality of women by significantly increasing the revenues and profits of woman-owned businesses in Cape Coast, Ghana.

 

Fair Trade means an equitable and fair partnership between marketers in North America and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the world. A fair trade partnership works to provide low-income artisans and farmers with a living wage for their work and sets social and environmental standards for international companies to maintain. Fair Trade Federation (FTF) criteria are:

  • Paying a fair wage in the local context
  • Offering employees opportunities for advancement
  • Providing equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged
  • Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices
  • Being open to public accountability
  • Building long-term trade relationships
  • Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context
  • Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible
 

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Global Mamas: Making a Difference, Differently

By Kristen Gallagher

Global Mamas: Making a Difference, Differently

Every company wants it: characteristics that separate and distinguish itself from other companies. Global Mamas has made this a priority from the beginning and still strives to do so. The company sets itself apart from other NGOs in several ways, both large and small, but all being important to the success and growth of the company.

 

One difference is its ability to take a holistic approach to business expansion and success. The company focuses on continually creating new job opportunities, higher wages, and increasing profit margins. Many other NGOs lose sight of acquiring real, concrete results which Global Mamas strives to achieve each year through annually renewed objectives. One of the objectives for 2007 is to grow the Cooperative's raw materials revolving loan fund by finding a fair trade source for jersey cotton items in Africa.

 

Another key defiant to the company is its fair trade practices. Many NGOs and other fair trade organizations implement the fair trade principals at one specific, key area of the company (i.e. production). However, Global Mamas practices fair trade throughout a much larger portion of the business than that. Each Global Mama receives a fair trade certification to ensure that she is operating by the fair trade standards, paying her employees fair wages, etc. The practice and ideals of fair trade are highly respected and followed in the Global Mamas network and workplace.

 

Lastly, the aspect self-sustainability of Global Mamas allows the employees of the company to stay focused on the company mission. Many similar organizations spend a large percentage of time and energy on receiving outside funding in order to continue operations. Global Mamas does not rely on outside funding, Company founders Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson pushed to develop strong revenue streams for the women, as well as a revenue sharing model.

 

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Tabeisa Partners with Global Mamas with Design4Life Competition

By Kristen Gallagher

Tabeisa Partners with Global Mamas with Design4Life Competition

The power of the Internet, once again, has served Global Mamas well in communicating its mission. Tabeisa, and UK-based not-for-profit consortium, discovered Global Mamas online and was so impressed with the success of the co-operative that it decided to sponsor Global Mamas in helping it expand into the UK market. Tabiesa The expansion has the women of Global Mamas feeling optimistic and confident about the future of their sales and success.

 

Tabeisa, in partnership with the Ethical Fashion Forum, teamed up this fall to host the Design4Life competition, which aimed to bring ethical fashion design onto the streets. The competition, funded by the EU and the UK Department for Education and Skills, challenged fashion students, graduates, and designers based in the UK, Ireland, and Africa to design a cotton dress that fit the trends of European style. Nearing 100 entries, the various designs submitted were of high-quality and encompassed original batiks with unique style. London-based retailer, TopShop, was notified and was so excited about the fair trade fashion project that they agreed to sell the dresses of the winning designers.

 

The selection process for the winning garments was difficult for the panel of judges. The winning designers were Annegret Affolderback, a 31 year-old graduate from Middlesex University, and Julia Smith, 23 year-old graduate from the London College of Fashion. Tabeisa sponsored Smith and Affolderback to come to Cape Coast for two weeks in December to work with the batikers and seamstresses on putting into production the new winning garments. Although there were challenges to overcome, such as lack of supplies, and the overbearing heat, the two designers had a successful visit and Global Mamas is preparing for its first shipment to the UK marketplace.

 

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Global Mamas Working to Bring in New Members

In February, all 16 members of Women in Progress met for a roundtable discussion on how to improve the process for bringing in new members. The women developed a new process for growing the organization to 24 members by the end of 2005, as stipulated by a British High Commission grant currently funding WIP’s International Trade Program. The women also discussed ways to improve the apprentice program.

Facilitated by WIP volunteer Ellen Graves, a graduate student studying organization development at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA, the members agreed that their top priority was to find talented women who face significant financial barriers. A candidate will attend an initial interview, where she will be evaluated on her financial need, determination to build a business, creativity and understanding of quality and timeliness.

WIP will conduct a site visit to assess the applicant’s work and financial situation. The candidate will produce a sample piece of work, which will be evaluated for quality and timeliness. All WIP members expressed enthusiasm about this new system, which will grow the organization, increase Global Mamas’ profits and improve the economic situation for more women in Ghana.

WIP members also talked about ways to improve their apprentice programs, especially teaching the girls to save for the future. The women discussed starting a “susu” program through the Progressive Women’s Credit Union.  A “susu” is an informal institution through which customers can establish small savings accounts. A “susu” collector will visit the apprentices on a weekly basis to collect small sums for their own personal savings.
   

Global Mamas meet to discuss bringing in new members

Eli-Emma Batik & Tye-Dye Expands to Beachfront Workspace

Elizabeth Ampiah, left, at work in her new studio space

In February, Global Mamas batikers Elizabeth Ampiah and Emma Myers moved their Eli-Emma Batik and Tye-Dye business to a spectacular new beachside location just steps from the Cape Coast Castle. With the increased profits they earned as part of Women in Progress, Eli-Emma financed and orchestrated their move from a small, out-of-the-way location to a space in the heart of Cape Coast.

The facility includes a showroom, indoor workspace, storage and restroom facilities for visitors.  Elizabeth and Emma expect their prime location to attract more tourists to their batik workshops and will allow them to produce larger orders and hire more employees.

Elizabeth and Emma financed the move with profits earned from their work for Global Mamas. Together with their husbands, they found the new space, negotiated the contract and organized the entire move.

The Eli-Emma expansion is an important example of how, with the help of Women in Progress, women are taking the initiative to to grow their businesses and change their lives.

The new Eli-Emma Batik and Tye-Dye location is kept cool by the ocean breeze and lots of shade

Volunteers Lead Global Mamas in Design and Color Workshops

Volunteers Lead Global Mamas in Design and Color Workshops

Women in Progress volunteers, Catherine Deane, Natalie Sturman and Gayle Pescud, created a series of design workshops for Global Mamas: Ideas Development, and Color Theory. The aim was to show the women how to gain inspiration from their surroundings and turn this into a completed design and to ultimately advance their own design and color skills. Each workshop was held twice a week for three weeks.

Natalie conducted the Ideas Development Workshop to show the basic method of creating new designs. The women learned how to create mood boards, a source of inspiration and style development, with pictures cut from magazines. The women sat together and clipped images, which appealed to them and arranged them on a poster. The effect was colorful and creative. There was much excited chatter when the women pinned their boards to the WIP office walls. Every board displayed a unique style, a sure sense of color, and an eye for design. The women were animated as they chatted about one another's selection and placement of images.

Gayle facilitated the Color Theory Workshop. She discussed the properties of color and how the mixture of different primary colors can create different secondary colors. This concept is extremely important to the batikers as they mix dyes to generate the exact color that is required for Global Mamas batik cloth. The women also learned about complementary relationships and harmonious color schemes, which is also an important concept as Global Mamas expands its product line. Global Mama, Gifty Saah, was further trained to carry out future trainings with new women entering the cooperative.

 

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Global Mamas Success Story By Lydia Wright: Wright Lee Fashions

Lydia Wright: Wright Lee Fashions

Wright's husband is currently living in Nigeria. Left alone and with the responsibility of caring for three young children, Lydia is working hard to earn enough income to support herself and her family. Lydia has found it difficult to make ends meet year-round because her orders peak during the holiday seasons, but she has very little work the rest of the year. A lack of steady work also forced Lydia to terminate her apprenticeship program, which meant letting go three apprentices. Since joining Global Mamas only a short time ago, Lydia is excited to have already:

  • Found constant work that allows her to earn increased income throughout the year.
  • Increased her revenue 150% due to orders from Global Mamas.
  • Expanded her business and moved to bring on additional employees.
  • Opened an account with Progressive Women's Credit Union and saved 5% of earnings for future business investments.
  • Purchased a new hand-powered sewing machine.
  • Paid her daughter's admission fees of 950,000 cedis (~$105).
 

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