Prosperity Update

News and stories from Global Mamas

Global Mamas of the Year: Cape Coast

By Melanie Popowich

Georgina Abra Afenyo (right) was delighted to receive the Global Mamas of the Year Award (Cape Coast) for 2009.
The much anticipated Global Mamas of the Year event was held this past March. It was such a pleasure to organize this event, but also a huge learning experience. No matter how many events you plan, each is so different and has to be handled carefully, especially with the laid back Ghanaian culture. Along the way, I learned that patience is key and if you want people to arrive at 6PM, you have to tell them to arrive at 5PM. (Similarly, if they tell you that the cost is 65 cedis, budget for at least 75).

 

The event was hosted at Elimax Spot outside of Elmina. Considering that Elimax owner, Eli, typically has five customers for dinner, hosting 60 people was a first for her! We quickly learned the art of improvising as we realized an hour before the women were expected to arrive that there was a serious shortage of tables and chairs. Fortunately, after a quick scramble, we were able to borrow chairs from the church across the street. Tables were a bit harder to come by and we became scavengers– using every available, partially functioning table we could find. We managed to find enough and drape them with the colorful Global Mamas table cloths. As the sun set, we lit over 100 candles and their soft glow only helped to accentuate the beautiful colors. It would be an understatement to say the restaurant looked amazing.

 

Staff members and a group of five drummers, led by Global Mamas night security man Appiah, warmly welcomed the women as they began to trickle in around six. The program commenced just after 7PM as grace was said before Eli's feast was served. Everyone enjoyed both the food and the company around the table as the drums played in the background. The women joined in to dance and sing – it was priceless!

 

Renae Adam, co-founder of Global Mamas, ushered the transition from dinner to the awards ceremony as she got everyone's attention by speaking a bit of Fante. The crowd hushed and the awards presentation began. The winners announced were as follows:

 

Initiative Award: Monica Eku (Batiker)
Innovation Award: Hannah Dodoo (Seamstress)
Leadership Award: Alice Korsah (Seamstress)
Staff Member of the Year Award: Wisdom Tamakloe
Global Mama of the Year Award: Georgina Abra Afenyo (Batiker)

 

After each name was announced the crowd went wild as they cheered loudly and clapped for each of the recipients. Georgina, the newly crowned Global Mama of the Year, said a few words that were filled with such gratitude. This brief description of the night does not sufficiently convey how memorable the night was to the staff and Mamas alike. It is most certainly a night that I will never forget.

 

___________________________

 

The Start of Shea Butter: Testing a New Territory

By Elizabeth Murphy

Members of the Christian Mother's Association processing shea butter in Northern Ghana.

When it comes to personal care, women want what is best. Every year the United States spends over 8 billon dollars on women's cosmetics and the figure continues to grow each year. This massive consumption speaks to the universal desire of women to take care of their skin and body. Consumers are beginning to understand the importance of using natural products, as it is healthier for the body. Global Mamas, recognizing the need for authentic, organic personal care products, saw an opportunity and chose to explore this new territory.

 

Northern Ghana is rich in both resources and opportunities. Women-based shea nut cooperatives are common in this region due to the abundant wild karite trees, which are the critical component to shea butter production. Many Africans refer to shea butter as “liquid gold”. In addition to containing antioxidants, vitamin E and minerals that work to moisturize and restore the natural beauty of skin, the shea butter also holds natural UV protection and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks.

 

Poverty and market fluctuations, however, had been preventing these women from taking part in the actual transactions. These women tended to be among the poorest in the world. Global Mama's identified the state of the economy and decided to implement a poverty reduction strategy to overhaul the situation. The organization planned to assert itself as a quality producer of shea butter products while simultaneously helping to improve the livelihood of the women.

 

Global Mamas formed advantageous partnerships with Naasakle Ltd and the West African Trade Hub. Both would provide direct access to export markets in North America for women's cooperatives in the Northern Region of Ghana, while also helping to manage the training in production, quality control, and marketing initiatives. Global Mamas hopes that once the business model has been successfully replicated, the Global Mamas Shea Butter Export Program will be expanded to other shea butter producers in West Africa. In the meantime, over 500 women's lives have been positively impacted by the presence of Global Mamas in the Northern Region.

 

Global Mamas Slippery Slope Shea Butter is offered in several scents such as tropical, lavender and vanilla. Global Mamas Dandy Lion Black Soap is made with shea butter and cocoa pod ashes that give it a natural cleansing power, universally beneficial for all skin types. The line of shea soap, called Global Mamas Trunk Scrub, is also made without chemicals, preservatives, or color additives to uphold the tenet of producing quality products in a sustainable way. Global Mamas is excited about its new skin care line and is working hard to create superior shea butter products while bettering the lives of the women.

 

___________________________

 

Moving on up: One Former Apprentice's Success through Global Mamas

By Alice Grau

Moving on up: One Former Apprentice's Success through Global Mamas

Since its inception, Global Mamas has created over 250 new jobs in Ghana by helping women-owned businesses expand their operations. One of the most exciting aspects of this growth is seeing individuals develop with the organization. At the Cape Coast location we have seen more than 45 batik and sewing apprentices' transition to paid positions and three women who started out as apprentices now have their own businesses within the Global Mamas network.

 

Louisa Esi Dadzie is one of those women. Louisa went to school at the Girls Vocational Institute and studied batiking in the classroom for 3 years. While still in school she was taken on attachment as a junior at Eli-Emma Batik workshop. Louisa proved to be an asset to the shop and thereafter was given more responsibility such as opening the workshop in the morning and access to the workshop to do her own work without charge. She took her job and benefits seriously and worked hard to save up enough money to open her own shop. That dream came true in July of 2007.

 

Since opening her shop, Louisa, now 26 years of age, has worked to gain a client basis. She currently does batik work for one school as well as many individual clients. You can find her skills represented among the Global Mamas products in this years Stickman and Aztec prints.

 

The skills that she has learned have provided her a good life and she recognizes that she can share that with others, so Louisa has taken her very first apprentice. Her shop has also provided enough income for her to purchase a cellular telephone, help take care of her mothers needs as well as start her education again at Cape Coast Polytechnic. Louisa Dreams of being a fashion designer.

 

Louisa says she is proud to be a member of Global Mamas and she wants the customers to know that she loves them and is grateful for their purchases.

 

___________________________

 

From the North Pole to the Equator – A long awaited trip to Global Mamas

By Leah Brickhouse

From the North Pole to the Equator – A long awaited trip to Global Mamas

Sweden sent us off to Africa with one of the coldest days in Gothenborg, -10C. Ghana welcomed us with open arms, to a balmy evening of 29C. That is how the adventure started for us - Tomas, the Fair Trade Educator / Photographer, and I, the Fair Trade Agent for Global Mamas in the "north pole", aka Scandinavia.

 

My first encounter with Global Mamas was at a Christmas market in Washington, D.C. four years ago. I fell in love with the colorful batiks, the women´s stories, and the mission of Global Mamas. After moving to Sweden, I started Sol Sisters - a socially responsible business focusing on fair trade, organic, and locally made products. Of course, when I moved to Scandinavia I brought Global Mamas with me and started promoting and selling their products. So, after a few years of involvement with Global Mamas, I thought it was time to travel and meet everyone in Ghana.

 

The fair trade movement has picked up a lot of momentum over the past two years of living here in Sweden. You can find fair trade products in all grocery stores and there is strong consumer push for more fair trade clothing in other stores. Tomas´ job is to educate people on what "Fair Trade" is, what it means for the producers, and why it is important to purchase fair trade products. He travels around Sweden presenting fair trade concepts at schools, unions, work places, and clubs. While he focuses on FLO (Fair Trade Labeling Organization) products, his interest in coming to Ghana was to gain experience with fair trade producers and organizations involved with fair trade around the world.

 

Our reception in Ghana was wonderful! The people were very warm and friendly. The weather was perfect - hot and sunny. Just what we needed after coming from the dark, cold winter of Sweden. I loved the fact that there where free range animals in the cities - sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, pigs and more. Now, I know what happened to the chicken that crossed the road, she ended up in my dinner. The food was fresh and locally produced. One morning in the Volta region, near the waterfalls at Wli, we had a breakfast of fresh pineapple and bananas from the garden, and organic coffee from the village at the top of the waterfalls. The access to fresh, locally produced foods in Ghana was a lot easier and cheaper, than in Sweden.

 

The majority of the population tavels by shared public transportation in the form of buses, cars, shared taxis, tro tros (converted trucks and buses), bush taxi´s, shared motorcycles, and shared bicycles. We often had to wait for a bus, taxi, or tro tro to fill up before it would leave. There were often no set departure schedules and time was never an issue. You just seemed to get to where you were headed "on time". Travel appeared to be stress-free with little or no need to arrive at a specific time - life just seemed to work out as it was supposed to.

 

During our 15 days in Ghana we traveled to Accra, Cape Coast, Elmina, Edumafa, Mankassem, Krobo, Hohoe, Wli, Ho, and the famous Akosombo Dam. We interviewed many of the members of the network in Cape Coast, Krobo and Accra, and we were lucky to see the birth of a new production site in Edumafa. My first time entering the Global Mamas office, meeting with the staff and eventually the members of the cooperative, was an emotional experience. I was moved to tears of joy and relief, at finally being able to meet the real people I had been in contact with, and about whom I had read stories and sold their products over the past few years. The pictures and voices were now alive, and these individuals have inspired me even more.

<p

 

___________________________

 

Global Mamas Launches a Pet Line!

By Global Mamas

Your dog can support fair trade too!

2010 is around the corner and Global Mamas has exciting news to share. Global Mamas is expanding its line of products to include our four legged friends! Global Mamas will be launching a wonderful fair trade line of pet products in 2010. These playful products will include bright batik dog backpacks and dog bandanas, all-natural Sudsy Mutt Shea Butter Shampoo Bar and recycled water-sachet-lined feeding mats. We are actively seeking new retail partners who will be a good fit for these products and hoping to showcase this product expansion in pet-friendly media. The focus is to expand Global Mamas and create more job opportunities for existing and future Global Mamas. These efforts will also allow Global Mamas to reach an entirely new customer base and include our four-legged friends in the fight to end poverty.

 

___________________________

 

First Anniversary of Accra Store

By Maki Kawamoto

Maki Kawamoto (JICA Volunteer) with Fafali Tamakloe (Sales Representative) in the colorful Global Mamas store located behind Koala in Osu, Accra, Ghana.

On August 1, 2008 Global Mamas launched a new store in the touristic Osu area of Accra. One year later we are very excited to share our great success with you.

 

From the very beginning, when the volunteers Matthew Sturm and Megan Collins spent over 12 hours a day designing and setting up the store, it has been meticulously developed. Maki Kawamoto, our JICA volunteer who currently manages it, has streamlined the ordering and inventory processes and is continuously analyzing sales and rearranging products and racks as well as ensuring that the store is supplied with a wide variety of products to meet all tastes.

 

Store customers range from tourists walking in the area, who, after passing by the store get captivated by the huge variety of our colorful products, to expatriate mothers running into each other at the store before attending their kids' friend's birthday parties. Volunteers from international organizations also stop by the store to buy presents for their relatives. "Our customers love the unique designs and bright colors of our products" says Rosemary, who was recently promoted to Store Manager; "many tell us they are able to point out a Global Mamas print when they see it out on the street."

 

The store has also become our 'fashion laboratory', where we are able to test and perfect new samples through our customers' feedback, analyze the potential of new styles through sales, and then launch a new product line containing only the best sellers. Something as simple as a comment from a customer can improve the lives of many women in the program.

 

We are also very pleased by the amazing welcome our slightly rejected products (those that did not meet standards for export) have received among our store customers. According to one of our customers "the quality of Global Mamas products is so high that in most cases the difference is not noticeable." Since all proceeds go directly to the women who produce the products as well as the non-profit programs that assist the women with business development, it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to sell these products locally and at least earn back the investment made to produce the flawed products.

 

The steady growth of the store sales in this past year has translated in the creation of jobs and increased the income and standard of living for many women and their families in Africa; to all of you, THANK YOU!

 

___________________________

 

New Cultural Workshops

By Alice Grau

Global Mamas has launched two cultural workshops in Accra for tourists

For several years Global Mamas has been offering a handful of half-day cultural workshops in Cape Coast for around US$15.00: Batiking, Drumming/Dancing, Fishing Village Excursion, Ghanaian Cuisine, and Traditional Head Wrapping & Beauty. Our recent addition is a 3-hour workshop in Odumase-Krobo for Bead Making. Since Global Mamas opened a retail store in Accra in August of 2008, we have had many requests from customers about offering cultural workshops in Accra. With the help of dedicated volunteers, Global Mamas recently launched two new cultural workshops in Accra.

 

Bethany Shackelford (Bellingham, Washington USA) worked with tour guide Gifty Boateng Owusu to develop and launch the Accra Market & Spice Tour. The tour is a close-up view of Ghana’s vibrant markets. Tourists walk the many passageways of Makola Market in the heart of Accra and hear folktales and legends of Ghana’s rich culture. Participants learn about peppe, funeral cloth, and everything in between.

 

Global Mamas has also been fortunate to receive a JICA volunteer, Maki Kawamoto (Hiroshima, Japan), for two years to help manage the Global Mamas store in Accra. In addition to streamlining the ordering and inventory processes in the store, Maki has taken it upon herself to launch the Accra Drumming & Dancing Workshop. Through her own passion for music and dancing, she identified two of Ghana’s esteemed female dancers and male master drummer and developed a half-day workshop for tourists. Participants learn the history of drumming and dancing as a significant part of Ghana’s culture and get a chance to participate. The Drumming & Dancing Workshop is offered at the Du Bois center in Accra. A stroll through the museum is a great way to wrap up the day.

 

Both new workshops were recently tested on a large scale with 33 students from Semester at Sea. The group docked in Tema Harbour and spent their first day in Accra learning about Global Mamas’ non-profit initiatives and participating in the workshop. For more information about the workshops, visit www.ghanaexpeditions.com.

 

___________________________

 

Launch of Trade for Change

By Alice Grau

The colorful home page of Trade for Change, now the most comprehensive online retailer of Global Mamas products

In an effort to better serve its growing number of retail partners, the Global Mamas shopping site was converted to a wholesale site in 2009. As a result, Trade for Change was launched to continue the online retail sales of Global Mamas products to consumers, and generate more orders and additional income for the Global Mamas network of fair trade producers in Ghana. Trade for Change is owned and operated by Global Mamas and all proceeds go directly to the women who produce the products as well as the non-profit programs that assist the women with business development. Trade for Change is now the most comprehensive online retailer of Global Mamas products. Sharing the Global Mamas mission, Trade for Change works to increase the sales of Global Mamas fair trade products which in turn creates jobs and increases the income and standard of living for women and their families in Africa.

 

Global Mamas would like to thank Eliana Berlfein for the creation of the Trade for Change design and David Hollis for the all technical aspects in developing and launching the website. We hope you visit the new site at www.tradeforchange.com and spread the word about this new site.

 

___________________________

 

Second Saturday Warehouse Sale: A Growing Success

By Alexandra Harris

A customer shops at the Global Mamas’ Second Saturday sale in Minneapolis, MN.

About one year ago, the Global Mamas wholesale distributor in Minneapolis, MN thought of a creative way to invite the local community into the Global Mamas experience: The Second Saturday Sale. This clearance sale provides an opportunity for the distributor to free up storage space by selling excess stock. On these days the front half of the warehouse is opened up to the public and items that are discontinued or are otherwise in excess are sold at greatly discounted prices. The event has gained popularity among the Minneapolis community and has been such a success that several artists who have studios in the building have started opening up their space to the public for Second Saturdays as well!

 

The success of these events has afforded for the Global Mamas warehouse to purchase nicer retail presentation tools such as waterfall racks so that the space can be more presentable for Second Saturdays and other such events. This can only be to the greater benefit of the organization as word spreads about this exciting opportunity. Recently an advertisement for this event was placed in a local paper that targets a younger crowd that has interest in art, music and fashion. This will hopefully attract the patronage of a new customer base that will not only benefit Global Mamas but also the artists of the Minneapolis community.

 

___________________________

 

2008 Global Mamas of the Year Awards

By Emily Henke and Alice Grau

Lizzy Kumah at her bead stand in Odumase-Krobo

On May 22, 2009 Global Mamas kicked off the 2008 awards season at Odumase-Krobo to recognize outstanding members of the Global Mamas network. The O-K Annual Meeting took place at 1 pm at the Madizu Fair Trade Company. The meeting was well attended by bead makers, bead assemblers, and Global Mama volunteers and friends. Thomas Amuzu, MFTC manager, gave a brief recap of the last year and discussed topics concerning bead dyes and quality. The Odumase-Krobo Global Mama of the Year Award went to Lizzy Kumah for her outstanding quality, dependability, and dedication to the betterment of the project. This year we also decided to present an "Above and Beyond" award to Juliana Matey for her amazing work on educating other beading villages on the eco-friendly use of dyes, especially the brown and black dyes. Juliana has willingly taken her job a step further and demonstrates to others the importance of seeing the entire picture. The festivities were continued with light refreshments and a showcase of the groups’ musical talent.

 

The following Friday, the 29th of May at 9 am the Global Mama of the Year Ceremony took place in the Cape Coast office. With many new volunteers present to bring up the energy, we were in for an exciting day. The meeting was opened by Patience Essibu, the locations Capacity Building Manager and then some highlights from the year were covered by Wisdom Tamakloe, the Production Manager and Alice Grau the General Manager. While some tasty European chocolates and Fan Ice treats circled the room, Patience presented the awards. For 2008, three individual were acknowledged for adding value to the group in special ways. Kate "Aba" Tay (Seamstress) was recognized for her "Top Quality", Georgina Afenyo (Batiker) for going "Above and Beyond" and Molly Djan (Seamstress) for being the "Most Reliable". Each of these women was given a certificate signed by the Executive Director and General Manager as well as a lovely necklace and brooch. After a beautiful solo from one of the quality control staff members, Patience presented the Cape Coast Global Mama of the Year Award was presented to Esther Gyepi-Garbrah (Seamstress). Esther was recognized for her dedication to the organization, her beautiful quality, her commitment to sharing her success with other women and always seeking ways to grow as a business woman; notably her recent start-up of an NGO in Elmina, Ghana. Esther was awarded with a signed certificate as well as materials to support the beginning of her NGO.

 

Overall it was a successful year for all of the Global Mamas sites throughout Ghana. After seeing women from all areas of the network step up in their various roles we are looking forward to the exciting prospects of 2009. Here’s to another great year!

 

___________________________