We have just released the Fair Market report on prices paid in the straw Bolgatanga basket industry in #Ghana. Click the secure link to the Fair Market Bolga Basket report and it will open up in PDF directly. (Scroll down to our introductory videos explaining the research background.)
The images in this post show scenes from a typical market day in Bolgatanga central market. Here, a woman is attempting to sell 5 baskets. A trader is amassing baskets purchased off the street and around the market.
Our research found that NONE of the 120 weavers we interviewed ever received anywhere near a price that met the minimum wage in Ghana when they sold a large market basket in the central market to traders.
To quote from the report:
Our comments: Four of the weavers said that some organisations within Ghana failed to pay them after they produced the baskets and handed them over to the organisation. In this case, it was a business in Ghana which exports baskets in bulk. They said that the organisations provided them with the straw to produce the baskets in large quantities, but after they produced the baskets, the organisations did not pay them. The organization’s reason for not paying was that the quality of the baskets was low, but the baskets were accepted by the organisation nonetheless.
And to quote a weaver we interviewed:
Of not being paid by the local business that took their baskets, one respondent said: “They are only adding to our plight because the little that we have they come here and deceive us and take that away from us. They are the ones reaping the benefits of our toils while we continue to wallow in poverty even though we work very hard daily.”
Over several years living in Bolgatanga, basket weavers often commented to us that a weaver could not profit from making baskets. We wondered why this was so. What was impeding their profit-making ability?
We wondered what buyers would do if they knew the conditions around the central market in Bolgatanga.
Would buyers be motivated to find a way to ensure the weaver received a fair price?
One buyer who wrote in anonymity hit the nail on the head with this comment:
“A buyer pays a fair price to the organization, but one of the problems is that it does not reach the producer because, in-between, people take cut of the payment, so what’s leftover is what is paid to the weaver.”
After completing this research it is difficult to conclude that selling straw baskets in the central Bolgatanga straw basket market serves straw basket weavers’ interests in any form whatsoever.
If any interests are served, they are those of the middlemen traders, exporters and others in the supply chain who profit.
One thing that is clear from this research is that it is not the straw basket weavers who profit from their work.
Far from helping weavers profit, the prices paid for straw baskets sold in the central Bolgatanga basket market do not cover the cost of a weaver’s time and, thus, do not meet the minimum wage in Ghana.
The middlemen traders, the exporters, the shipping companies, and international buyers profit on the back of the humble basket weaver’s time and skill. Go to page 89 of the report in the link to read on.
G-lish Foundation is grateful to the Australian High Commission in Ghana and the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Program for the grant that enabled this work to be undertaken between 2012 and 2013 in the Upper East Region of Ghana. We thank everyone at the Australian High Commission for their faith and support which enabled us to carry out unprecedented work which has the potential to transform many lives in Ghana’s second poorest region.
This work is about a simple basket. The injustice we observed that became this project and now this report is about the people who make it, the end consumer, the people who trade them, and all the people in between.
Ultimately, it’s about choices: how you choose to spend your money. We hope that this work can be broadened to other crafts and communities so that buyers may take action wherever they make a choice about prices paid to artisans.
Hashtag: #BasketGood to comment on this in social media.
Twitter: @gaylepescud @godwinyidana1 @G_lishGhana.
Message us here with any questions or comment below. In the next two days we will be inviting buyers to a private, locked, online forum in which we'll discuss the issues here in more detail and share experiences in order to better understand and find solutions to the issues.
Video 1: A basic introduction on why we did the research
Video 2 - continued