Prosperity Update

News and stories from Global Mamas

Esther Gyepi-Garbrah Invited to Speak at Fair Trade Conference in United States

By Melanie Popowich

Esther Gyepi-Garbrah being introduced as one of the panelists at the 2010 Fair Trade Futures Conference

Esther Gyepi-Garbrah is no ordinary seamstress- she is an exceptional woman with an exceptional story. She was invited to speak at the Fair Trade Federation annual conference held in Quincy, Massachusetts this September. Despite many obstacles, Esther has become one of the most successful Global Mamas and is one of the most deserved women to be selected to speak at such a remarkable event.

 

Esther began her career as a seamstress with no materials of her own; she was equipped with only a borrowed machine and worked out of her bedroom. Because money was hard to come by, Esther soon applied for a loan. Unfortunately, she was quickly swept up in the vicious cycle of paying off only the interest rate for her loan and fell victim to a loan default and declaring bankruptcy. Esther recalls this as one of the most trying times in her life, as she was "running after the wind." Her dreams of managing a successful shop of her own were fading.

 

When Esther’s dreams seemed unattainable, Renae Adam, the founder of Global Mamas, made a proposition that would alter Esther’s life forever. The proposal was simple: make ten dresses instead of one. Esther managed to complete the order and she was immediately compensated. For the first time in Esther’s life, there was money in her pocket and she felt the freedom of financial independence. In time, Esther cemented her relationship with Global Mamas and continued to complete orders, which allowed her enough revenue to pay back her loan. Her store, My Redeemer Liveth Fashion, has thrived and she has even started a very successful apprentice program. Esther does not simply teach her apprentices, but she also equips them with a machine once they graduate from her program. She believes that because she had such a hard start, she feels compelled to make it easier for the others. She learned the value of a support system through Global Mamas and makes a concerted effort to provide the same support to her employees.

 

Esther is a woman whose deep faith has compelled her to give back, especially in the wake of success. Her motto is simple, "anytime I have more, I have to give." The death of her niece, Grace, prompted Esther to start her own NGO. It has officially been registered by the Ghanaian government and its mission is to provide free vocational training for seamstresses and batikers in the most deprived areas of Ghana, primarily the villages. She identifies with the struggles of the village people and believes that they face far greater limitations when it comes to schooling and jobs. One day, she hopes to build factories that will employ and teach skills to many of these women and men.

 

From the 10th through the 12th of September, Esther brought her story and experience to the Fair Trade Futures Conference. She and co-founder Kristin Johnson were featured in a seminar on "Navigating Relationships with Producers Over Time" during which they were well received with supportive feedback from current customers. Esther and Kristin also had the opportunity to provide insight on some of the audiences tougher questions such as how to negotiate pay with producers and how to ensure that producers are well represented in the companies decisions.

 

The highlight of Esther’s weekend came Sunday morning when she joined three other producers on the main stage as living examples of "What does Fair Trade Seek to Achieve?". Esther shared her moving story with a room full of hundreds of people. Afterwards she had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience as well as speak with individuals who sought her out in person. Esther had conversations with customers, students, other prod

 

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Fair Trade Center Launches in Krobo

By Emily Henke

Fair Trade Center Launches in Krobo
In January of 2008, Global Mamas helped to launch The Madizu Fair Trade Center, located in Odumase-Krobo. Thomas Amuzu and Gladys Adjimer are the owners and managers of the company and they have been contracted to assemble Global Mamas beaded products.

 

Inside the Fair Trade Center countless different beads are covering almost every table surface. Eight women are seated around a table enjoying conversation and busily stringing the beads into bracelets and necklaces while another woman is making the strands at a separate table. Thomas looks onto each woman's work before taking a seat by the doorway. Although they are working hard, each of the women have a smile on her face.

 

For the past three years, Thomas has been developing the Fair Trade Center in Krobo for Global Mamas. While originally one of the bead makers himself, he now oversees a group of up to ten women. Thomas' work experience before joining Global Mamas includes farming, tro-tro driving, and fashion designing. None of these jobs however, provided a continuous income. Although occasionally, his monthly salary would be higher than that of Global Mamas, there were months when Thomas would not make any money at all. Now, Thomas feels he has "tested all of the waters" and finds that working for Global Mamas is "far, far better". He has high hopes for the Fair Trade Center and feels he is able to grow and progress now that he has found financial security.

 

Gladys also sees the benefit of working for Global Mamas as she now earns 90% of her income making beaded products. She is also able to employ two part-time workers as well as save money to put toward her mother's medical bills and support her brother.

 

The center also benefits the women they employ. Each woman is paid based on an hourly wage and earns more than minimum wage with the opportunity to receive a raise for exceptional improvement of their work. Thomas and Gladys believe this strategy will improve their business and give incentives for continuing hard work from their employees. The work is progressing and Thomas and Gladys see that over time this business can grow and be a great resource of sustainable employment in the area.

 

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Global Mamas Receive Fair Trade Certification at Annual Meeting

By Kristen Gallagher

Global Mamas Receive Fair Trade Certification at Annual Meeting

Make way for more fair trade! The women of the Global Mamas Cooperative in Cape Coast came together at the Cape Coast Hotel this April to address current progress, challenges, and upcoming projects. The highlight of the day was an "awards ceremony" to present Fair Trade Certifications to the 17 women whom have earned them.

 

Global Mamas' internal Fair Trade Certification was put into practice to ensure that fair trade principles are being embraced at the grassroots level of each of the member enterprises in the Cooperative. The Fair Trade Certification ensures that the business owners are providing fair wages to their employees, offering hygienic working conditions, taking care of the environment, providing opportunities for male and female employees within the business, and maintaining transparency in the financial practices of the business. In order to receive the certification, the women are interviewed, quizzed and observed in their businesses practices by Global Mamas' staff and trained volunteers.

 

The following women proudly accepted becoming a Global Mamas certified fair trade employer: Aggie Cole Arthur, Alice Horsah, Bessie "Adwaa" Cramer, Betty Cato Cudjoe Charlotte Bart-Plange Eli Amphia and Emma Myers, Florence Thompson, Giffty Saah, Grace "Araba" Koufi, Judith Arthur, Kate "Aba" Tay, Lydia Write, Molly Linda Gyan, Opheeia "Kukwa" Arthur, Rebecca Odoom, and Victoria "Obayaa" Koufi. The women gleamed with smiles and were cheered by colleagues as they were presented with their certifications.

 

Volunteers are helping to roll out the Global Mamas internal Fair Trade Certification Program in Krobo, where the Cooperative concentrates on bead making and product assembly. McKenzie Coffee, Kate Franks, and Meredith Ryder-Rude are 3 volunteers currently staying in Krobo and proceeding to help the women understand the value and necessity of fair trade practices. "If you consider the working conditions in a place like Ghana, you can really appreciate those who strive to treat their employees as well as they can in such conditions," tells WIP's Peace Corps volunteer Meredith "Murph" Ryder-Rude.

 

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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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