We believe that when you buy a product you should enable prosperity, not poverty. Yet, every third day in Bolga, market day, thousands of basket makers head in to town to try and sell their Bolga baskets. Every market day dozens return home with baskets in hand, unable to sell them for one reason or another—often the buyer won’t even pay the price of the materials, much less compensate for the time and skill. They’ll offer a price lower than the cost of the materials needed to make the basket. Some basket makers, desperate, sell their baskets at lower than cost price—not even accounting for their time. Buyers know they have the upper hand. Unfortunately, international customers often don’t realize this situation.
G-lish talks to these basket makers informally, asking them about what happens. They mention that sometimes they don’t have a choice but to sell the basket at a lower price than it cost them to make it because they need that few Cedis back, even if they lost money on the basket. They don’t know how they’ll survive until the next market day.
Imagine if a craft maker in New York was told they could only sell their craft to buyers at a loss because the buyers told them so? Or because someone overseas didn’t understand the cost and value of their work? How would that craft maker ever survive? We don’t think it should be any different for quality, skilled craft makers in Africa—which is also reflected in the price of G-lish recycled baskets.
During 2012, G-lish’s intention is to both educate local producers and the international Bolga basket buying community about what fair means in the context of basket production so that those who create the product are fairly compensated—and that they’re not doomed to poverty by the very product so many people around the world admire.
Increasing the prices paid for straw baskets will have a massive impact in the economy of the Upper East Region of Ghana since thousands of people and families are involved in basket production.
We will undertake an awareness program using our site and social media so that international buyers of traditional straw baskets understand how little the basket makers themselves normally receive in payment, with the intention of encouraging buyers at the local and international level to pay fairer prices. This is what fair trade is about. And this is what sustainable development is about.
This will be a significant element in business support and fair trade volunteer projects in 2012 which sits in business volunteer projects. If you wish to volunteer in this ground-breaking project in Ghana, please let us know. You can download our volunteer in Africa brochure here. We will update our site with progress on this project throughout 2012.
Do you think craft makers should be fairly compensated for their skill, craftsmanship and time? Are you willing to pay a price that enables someone to prosper, rather than just struggle day to day?