On the 21st of November, 2012, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, HE William (Billy) Williams, and the Public Affairs Officer, Mr Walter Kudzodzi, visited G-lish Foundation on a four-day tour to the Northern and Upper East Regions to launch development projects funded by the Australian Government.
In September 2012, G-lish was awarded funding under the Direct Aid Program of the Australian High Commission to carry out a GHC 28,883.00 (approx US$ 15,000.00) project: Community Artisan and Fair Trade Market Development Project, which will run until June, 2013.
G-lish staff and producers were delighted to welcome Mr Williams and Mr Kudzodzi at the office on the 21st of November. We had a fruitful discussion about G-lish’s history and present activities, the Australian High Commission’s activities in the three northern regions and in the West African sub-region. We discussed the difference the funded project will make to basket producers in the Upper East Region, and how it fits with G-lish Foundation’s mission and long-term objectives.
After meeting in the office we travelled to the main village where G-lish works and met producers working in their compound, and weavers working in the shade of a tree, showcasing our wonderful, hard-working and welcoming producers, the environment where they live and work, and G-lish’s efforts in sustainable income generation projects.
One of G-lish’s co-founder’s, Godwin Yidana, said:
“It was great to receive the funding, but also humbling to have the High Commissioner himself visit us and go from house to house to meet the women involved in the project. It made me feel that we’re doing something right and that there are people who, even though you might not see on a daily basis, really care about what you’re doing and that makes you want to do more.”
As an Australian, G-lish’s other co-founder, Gayle Pescud, was equally excited to be meeting the High Commissioner, the representative for G-lish’s first large-scale funding opportunity, and to be meeting “someone from home”. She said:
“It was a great honour and I felt proud to be Australian when Mr Williams and Mr Kudzodzi stepped into our office and gave us our first candid reactions (which were positive!) to the first art work pieces created under the community artisan element of the project.”
The project has three major objectives.
1) Community Artisan Development
- Develop a community of artists through capacity building creativity workshops and training on the fundamentals of colour and design.
- Develop an art market for woven, recycled fibre art pieces and textile art internationally
- Increase opportunities for high-level income generation for impoverished communities in rural Ghana.
- This fits with G-lish’s long-term vision to develop an Arts and Crafts Centre in Bolgatanga which currently has no major tourist attraction near the city, to which visiting artists and crafters can come and teach and exchange techniques with Bolgatanga’s expert weavers.
2) Fair Trade Market Development
- Increase income levels for thousands of individuals across the Upper East Region, with many positive outcomes.
- Analyse the traditional straw Bolga basket market through a series of meetings and programs in multiple basket-making communities across the region
- Assess prices paid to producers against fair trade prices and income levels.
- Influence international and domestic buyers to pay fair prices to producers for woven baskets made by straw
- Reduce or completely close the gap between producers and buyers to cut out the middle men traders and increase prices paid to producers.
- Compile this information into a report and reference materials for buyers and the World Fair Trade Organisation to help buyers know what a producer will take home at bench-marked price points and basket types
- Document the supply chain so that it is transparent to all parties
- The final reports will be made available to the public. We welcome any questions in the meantime.
3) Become a certified fair trade organisation
Obtain fair trade certification for G-lish Foundation, as an organisation, under the World Fair Trade Organisation. Fair trade certification is a rigorous and continuous monitoring and evaluation program which lets buyers and anyone who wants to support fair trade in developing countries know that the organisation’s producers’ lives are enhanced, not worsened, through their work with G-lish—and this helps G-lish sell more products (marketing) which helps G-lish meet all of its mission objectives: generate more income for impoverished rural producers, regenerate the degraded environment, develop projects that create a prosperous and safe future.
Incidentally, that’s little Gertrude (a “G” baby) looking up at her Dad, a plastic cutter. Her Mum, Laadi, is the weaver closest to Mr Williams. She’s a bit of a star among the weavers and kids at that family compound.