By Jane Welna
Looking for some stylish threads to wear while you're listening to Afrobeat? Or a holiday gift you can order on-line direct from Ghana? Check out the handmade batik products at the fair trade label Global Mamas.
Global Mamas is a cooperative of 26 small independent women-owned businesses in Ghana. With employees and apprentices, Global Mamas directly benefits over 150 people through producing hand-made clothing and accessories. The fabrics are bright and colorful and incorporate traditional Ashanti Adinkra symbols with meanings like "Peace and harmony" and "Learn from your past."
Because they are a “Fair Trade” manufacturer, there is an equitable and fair partnership between marketers in North America and producers in Ghana. A fair trade partnership works to provide low-income artisans and farmers with a living wage for their work. 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.
Global Mamas is the creation of former Peace Corps volunteers Kristin Johnson and Renae Adam. In the early 1990s, Johnson had taught business skills to women entrepreneurs and even started a credit union for women. But she and Renae Adam found that although women were offered lots of business training, no organization stayed around long enough to assist with the immense, day-to-day barriers they faced in growing businesses and finding export markets.
Half the population in Ghana lives on one dollar a day or less. In the three years since it was founded, and despite being turned down for outside funding from economic development agencies, the Global Mamas cooperative has transformed the lives of its members, doubling and tripling incomes and improving the standard of living for the women, their employees and their families. The women of Global Mamas now earn a livable wage – more than ten times Ghana's minimum wage – enabling them to pay off debts, send their children to school, and have basic utilities at home.
Each Global Mamas item comes with a tag signed by the maker, whose story you can find on the Global Mamas website. Many items ship from the US if they are in stock, and arrive in a matter of a day or two to US destinations.