This week, we are welcoming Gifty and Akukuli into our Income Generation program in Gambibigo, Ghana in the Upper East Region of the country. They received business expansion grants, which allows them to invest grant funds into expanding their weaving business. These women are already experienced weavers, but have had a difficult time earning enough income through their weaving to support their families. Both women are single mothers who live in a region of the country where a very harsh, dry climate makes agriculture and farming an almost impossible way to earn enough income year-round to support their families. In this part of Ghana, people have to find additional means of income in order to keep their children from going hungry. Handwork and tradecraft are the main secondary, or in the case of many single mothers, the primary means of earning.
These baskets are not only beautiful, but the income earned from their sale feeds, clothes, and educates children. In the spirit of gratitude for these baskets and the women who weave them, we want you to know how they are made. Here is the process of weaving a Bolga basket:
1. Your first step is to harvest the tops of a local grass called Veta vera straw, known locally as kinkahe or elephant grass.
2. Very carefully, split the straw in half vertically, then twist it tightly by rolling it back together. This makes the straw strong and ready to weave.
3. Put the straw in bunches. and dye each bunch in boiling water. If you want to create bright colors, dye the straw yellow first, then add color.
4. Now you are ready to select the appropriate straw for the base, sides and handle. Selection of the proper grass for various parts of the basket is critical to good weaving.
5. Start at the base and work up to the rim. Rims are generally finished flat, or wrapped with straw to form a tubelike edge.
7. Trim off the remaining bits of straw that are sticking out of the basket.
8. Take your basket to a local leather-worker so they can apply the leather handles.
Your basket is now finished!
A basket like the one pictured above takes about three days to weave. With the grant expansion funds, Gifty and Akukuli will be able to weave a bulk of baskets to sell, rather than weaving two or three and to sell and then going back to purchase more supplies.
When you purchase a basket from us, you will see on the tag one of these names: Nmaa, Teni, Akukuli, or Gifty. One of these women weaved your basket and your purchase helps provide income for these four women and their children.
Baskets carry hope! To shop or order a basket, email firstname.lastname@example.org.