Prosperity Update

News and stories from Global Mamas

Ancient Shea & Modern Moringa: a Winning Combination

Sophia Khan, Volunteer & Renae Adam, Co-Founder 

 

A classic: our vanilla body butter and on the right, ripening shea nuts.

 

Rumor has it that Cleopatra took jars of shea butter wherever she went to keep her skin in tip top condition and it’s certainly true that it’s long been used for as a beauty product for hundreds, if not thousands of years across the African continent as well as being an ingredient in many modern beauty products too.

 

We took it upon ourselves to investigate, on the ground in Ghana, the stories of shea butter passed down through generations and to find out the role of shea today.

 

Suzzy Korsah, quality control expert at our Cape Coast office and shea butter lover!

 

Shea Butter Use in Ghana

We start our research close to home by speaking with Mamas in the Global Mamas Cape Coast office where the majority of our batik apparel and accessories are produced. The Quality Control team told us that shea is known as ‘nkuto’ in the local language. Suzzy Korsah, senior QC staff member, says “Nkuto is powerful and is used for e v e r y t h i n g! In the olden days in the villages, shea butter was the only source of cream and it was used for everything from a skin moisturizer and hair pomade, to healing rashes and wounds. Women would take metal combs and put them in the fire, and dip in shea butter to comb through their hair. This would stretch their hair and make it soft, curly and beautiful.”

 

Rose Odoom, overseeing exports in the Global Mamas Accra office, reminisced, “We kept a large jar of shea butter in the house and everyone in my family used it twice a day after bathing to make our skin and hair very smooth and soft and protect from other sicknesses”. She said “the market sellers would get the shea butter from the North and my grandmother always knew how to pick the best quality shea butter by its fresh scent.”

Gladys Adimer, heading our Krobo office where all the Global Mamas beaded items are produced said that when she was a young girl, she learned the wonders of shea butter from her forefathers and foremothers. She exclaims, “It can heal so many things! When your arm or leg feels hot [swollen/inflamed], you use shea butter to massage and relax the muscle and then it feels normal.” She also remembers her elders “grinding some special leaves on a stone and mixing with shea butter to put on boils to make it break quickly and get the bad water out.”

Gladys adds, “Today if you go to hospital they advise you to use shea butter for your babies because it’s natural and other creams will give rashes”. Suzzy remarked, “I used shea butter on my son from when he was born.” She adds, “The real magic one is when your baby is suffering from a cold, you can put ‘small small’ shea under his nose and behind his ears so he can inhale it and it will help with his breathing and catarrh.” Gladys recalls her mother treating a baby’s cough by melting shea butter and giving a little to the baby for drinking or putting it on the forehead.” Suzzy also says that women having problems producing enough milk rub shea butter on their breasts to help stimulate milk production.

 

It is easy to see that this all-natural, affordable, “African gold” is still as popular as ever among young Ghanaian women, just as much as their mothers and great grandmothers. More recent scientific studies have more clearly defined other benefits of shea butter that our ancestors had the wisdom to uncover so many years ago. Such benefits include reducing the effects of aging, preventing stretch marks, healing scars, and having natural SPF.

 

All parts of the moringa, or "drumstick" tree have their uses. Moringa seeds reportedly have 7x more vitamin C than oranges, 4x the vitamin A in carrots, 4x the calcium in milk, and 3x the potassium in bananas! 

Moringa: An Introduction

Just when you thought our shea products couldn’t get any better we introduced antioxidant rich moringa into the mix! Emily Cunningham of True Moringa dives into the list of this miraculous plant’s many uses. She shares, “the moringa tree is native to India and was introduced to Ghana only a century ago. With the help of humanitarian groups such as the WHO and Peace Corps moringa trees have spread quickly. They’re a fantastic dietary supplement with leaves that contain more iron than spinach, more protein than eggs, and more vitamin A than carrots, gram for gram.” One method being used to spread the growth of this wonder-plant is by educating school-aged children and sending them home with moringa seedlings to plant and share with their parents. The hope is that the leaves of this “superfood” will start being included in their daily diet to provide added nutrition. 

 

Experience the benefits of our 100% Ghanaian shea/moringa collaboration with the Made in Ghana Gift Box (right). Available online through True Moringa.

More than a Nutritional Supplement

Beyond using moringa leaves as a food additive, there are double benefits for moringa farmers as there's a demand for the oil that can be extracted from the moringa pods. Similar to shea butter, moringa oil is packed full of nutrients and medicinal properties and is quickly finding it's place in the cosmetic industry.

Since moringa oil is a relatively new phenomenon we sought feedback from Valerie Gueye, a public health specialist in Ghana. She says, "When our family relocated to Ghana from Senegal nine years ago, friends frequently asked me to bring them moringa powder as a dietary supplement. Out of curiosity I purchased a bottle of the oil at a local organic market and found it to be a light, non-greasy moisturizer. It is now part of my normal routine." After living in the West African region for nearly 20 years she considers herself lucky to have easy access to all-natural products like shea butter and moringa oil.  

A Beautiful Partnership

Just last year in collaboration with natural beauty blog Beauty Lies Truth and our friends over at True Moringa, Global Mamas developed our limited edition line of Global Beauty Butter. This natural plant-based moisturizer features the skin soothing effects of fair trade shea butter, cold-compressed moringa oil, and lemongrass oil. These ingredients are all 100% Ghanaian sourced ingredients. More than 70% of the retail price of Global Beauty Butter sold goes to directly empower our Mamas and fair trade partners through wages, training, and other benefits. Even bigger social bang for your buck, the profits from Global Beauty Butter sales are put into the Shea Helps Empower (SHE) Fund.

Sales of Global Beauty Butter have funded the extension of electricity to the CMA Shea Butter Cooerpative processing center which now powers their grinding machine and provides security lighting.

 Early in 2017, the SHE Fund released the first round of funding for the most pressing project identified by the skilled shea producers of the CMA Shea Butter Cooperative to improve the safety and efficiency of their cooperative’s production center. They used the funds to extend electricity to their building which they are now using to power their grinding machine and provide security lighting. The women have already determined their next SHE Fund project – repairing the foundation and roof of the shea production center and to date we’re 26% of the way there. You can treat yourself to the natural wonder of Global Beauty Butter and support this project at either Global Mamas or TrueMoringa.

Building Prosperity: Planning the Fair Trade Zone

Paige Affinito, Intern

With an average annual growth rate of 66%, Global Mamas faces the rare challenge that demand has outstripped production. Because our production falls short and orders go unfilled, expansion in sales has slowed organization’s overall pace of growth. To address this problem, Global Mamas initiated plans for a new production facility with the potential to increase current production output by 54%. The vision for the Fair Trade Zone (FTZ) is to revive the Ghanaian textile industry by employing 200 women full-time in a comfortable, beautiful production center that cultivates an atmosphere of learning, healthy living, and team work.   

In Summer 2013, an international team of architecture students led by Architecture Sans Frontières (Architecture Without Borders) United Kingdom, a nonprofit focused on making international development issues integral to architecture, worked with Global Mamas, gathering ideas and potential designs for the FTZ.  Volunteers Adjoa Akowuah, Emily Wright, Kofi Ofosu-Ennin, and Lisanne de Beun traveled between our Ashaiman and Cape Coast sites observing the workspaces, solicited feedback from seamstresses and batikers, and researching materials that could be used to build theeco-conscious and self-sustaining production center.

Soon, simple cardboard cutouts and ink sketches began to resemble the ideas and hopes behind the Fair Trade Zone.  For example, a major concern for thebatikers is the size of their workspace and the fact that they have nowhere to change into their work clothes. The architects were sure to open up this space in their design and include a changing room.  

In October, the team was ready to present all their hard work and final conceptual design. With a space specifically made for a childcare center, the center fosters comfortable working environments for mothers. Separate batiking and sewing areas ensure the potent fumes from dyes will not disturb seamstresses. Recycled waste and local, sustainable materials serve as the foundations for the nearly self-sufficient site.

                       

We now have the details and initial design behind the project, but there is still much to do before lifting the Fair Trade Zone frompaper into reality.Next,Global Mamas must draw up a budget and detailed costing plans for all elements of the design.Before this can be done; however, we must face the constraints of buying land in Ghana. The organization is just now beginning to look for a temporary location to rent from the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and is looking to purchase land in the Ashaiman/Tema area to make transit easy for employees that area already based at our current Ashaiman location.

Finding the fun in fundraising

By Melanie Popowich

Product Conception to Fruition

Global Mamas recently embarked on the daunting task of developing a public fundraising campaign to help expand our seventh location in Prampram. We started out by recruiting team USA that included former volunteers Brittany Campanelli & Kiley O'Brien Ruggiero, former intern Aileen Ottenweller and staff members Alice Grau and Kristin Johnson. Renae Adam and Melanie Popowich represented Team Ghana. Brainstorming sessions took place over Skype and vigorous e-mails were sent through cyber space for a few months before the official launch of two online fundraisers on Razoo and Global Giving. On December 1st our fundraisers made their début and by the end of the month, 128 superstars donated $12,223.50! I can vividly remember when the very first donation came through and how excited we all were to be at 1% of our goal. Now, four months later, our fundraiser is just short of $19,000 with 154 donors. As proud as we are at those numbers, the wonderful reality is that we’ve been able to hire 10 new women and provide them with fair and sustainable employment. The Fair Trade Textiles Workshop radiates a whole new energy now as the team works closely filling orders and troubleshooting everyday challenges.

 

We’re not stopping here! We’re still busy applying for grants and planning our ten-year anniversary fundraiser for 2013. A very special thank you to all of the volunteers who’ve assisted us with research for our fundraiser and to the kind and generous donors for joining the movement and sparking a new ambition for greatness in us all!

 

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WIP Receives Funding from The Australian High Commission

By Kristen Gallagher

WIP Receives Funding from The Australian High Commission

One of Global Mamas' many successes this season was that it received $9,500 in funding from the Australian High Commission for The Revolving Raw Materials Inventory Project. The application for direct aid for small projects was submitted in July of 2006 and the funds were received the following December. The funding received is being used to purchase new dyes and machines for the women of Global Mamas and although the benefits to the women will not be immediate, they will be sustained on a long-term basis. Within the one-year funding period, Women in Progress plans to expand the program to include 12 new business which will lead this project to directly improve the lives of 288 women and girls in the Cape Coast area.

 

The money received by the Australian High Commission will be used in two major ways: One of the uses is to purchase larger quantities of dyes used to create the garments sold. Before receiving funding, the batikers would have to buy dyes in small quantities, due to the fact that they dyes are very expensive. This would cause product inconsistencies because of the varying qualities of the dyes. Now that the women can purchase large quantities upfront, the products will be made at a much higher standard of quality and consistency. This will bring in higher product margins and create happier customers.

 

The second part of the funding will be used to purchase the much-needed knitting/overlocking machines for the Global Mamas seamstresses. Currently, it is very difficult for them to keep the entirety of their products at the highest possible quality due to the lack of these machines. Their only option is to find kiosks in the Cape Coast market that will overlock the raw edges of the apparel. These new machines will lead to more consistent quality, less product rejection, and more satisfied customers. Additionally, it will enforce the idea of responsibility for the Global Mamas, as they will be solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their own machines. "Product efficiency and quality have improved immensely," says co-founder Kristin Johnson.

 

As the product quality increases, batikers and seamstresses are much more content with what they produce and have greater motivation to keep up the hard work.

 

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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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