Weaving Women’s Prosperity in Northern Ghana

Weaving Women’s Prosperity in Northern Ghana

Agriculture stands as a cornerstone of Ghana’s economy, particularly in the Northern region, playing a pivotal role as a vital source of sustenance. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, this sector contributes a significant 54% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs approximately 52% of the nation’s labour force, with women comprising around 39%. In Ghana, women predominantly engage in farming, producing not only for their families but also for income, supporting themselves and their families by selling a portion of their farm produce. 

 

In the village of Amanga, nestled in the nation’s Upper East region, the lives of over 800 residents revolve around small-scale farming. This community thrives during the rainy season, relying on their agricultural pursuits for livelihood. However, the idyllic scenes transform into a struggle as the rains cease, plunging the community into uncertainty during the dry season. While this challenge affects the entire community, its most severe impact is borne by women.

Amanga Village

 

In such challenging circumstances, many of these women, especially the younger ones, opt to migrate to the nation’s capital city, Accra, and other urban areas to engage in various income-generating activities, such as head porting. Unfortunately, in these situations, these women abandon their families, including their children. Regrettably, most of them choose not to return to care for their children, leaving the youngsters to endure hunger, with many eventually dropping out of school. 

Local authorities and women’s groups in this community have diligently explored avenues to diversify sources of livelihood. Unfortunately, these efforts did not yield significant results. 

In response to these challenges, GMI Global Vision Foundation, a small non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Bolgatanga, embarked on a mission to uplift the women and families of Amanga. Despite the noble intentions, the organisation encountered financial constraints. The realisation of their dream, particularly the implementation of a Basket Weaving Project, envisioned for the women, seemed nearly impossible due to the requisite funding that was yet to materialise.

The life of the project hinged on mobilising an amount of sixty-seven thousand two hundred Ghana Cedis (GHS 67,000). Nevertheless, GMI Global Vision Foundation merely sought some seed capital to initiate its commencement. After a series of struggles to mobilise funds for the project, no results were achieved until 2022 when they participated in a local fundraising training under the Change the Game Academy initiative supported by Wilde Ganzen.  

“We found ourselves in a very tough situation, wondering if this project could see the light of day. Mobilising funds to kick-start the project has not been easy,” remarked Samuel Azure, the Executive Director of the organisation. 

Executive Director of  GMI Global Vision Foundation, Samuel Azure.

 

The training facilitated by West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in Ghana, proved to be a major game-changer, catapulting the project to life. Armed with the skills from the training, the organisation leveraged local fundraising techniques to mobilise an amount of six thousand seven hundred Ghana Cedis (GHS 6,700). However, despite their efforts, this amount proved inadequate to cover even the expenses of mobilising resource personnel capable of training the women in the art of basket weaving. As a result, the future of the Basket Weaving project—such a crucial initiative with the potential to positively impact the lives of over 800 women in the village of Amanga—appeared bleak. 

Amidst these challenges, a glimmer of hope emerged. WACSI stepped in to provide match-funding support of fifteen thousand Ghana Cedis (GHS 15,000) to turn this noble dream into reality under the Change the Game Academy initiative. This financial support, combined with an additional amount of six thousand seven hundred Ghana Cedis (GHS 6,700) mobilised locally by the organisation, brought their efforts to fruition, marking the starting point of significant progress in the lives of these women. 

With an amount of twenty-one thousand seven hundred Ghana Cedis (GHS 21,700), GMI Global Vision Foundation commenced the basket weaving project in Amanga. The project offers craftsmanship in basket weaving.  

Upon successful completion of the training, participants are equipped with skills that they apply to weave baskets, which are then sent to market centres in nearby towns for sale.  

“It began with 25 women as first apprentices. A few months later, over 100 women had completed training and were already weaving for sale,” Azure said. 

“Through the support of WACSI and its partners, the positive outcome of the funding we received is evident. These women, who might have otherwise become head porters, have been empowered to be economically independent,” he noted.  

Presently, GMI Global Vision Foundation is transforming the lives of over 100 women in Amanga through the Basket Weaving Project. This innovative initiative has provided these women with a chance to not only generate income from farming but also through the sale of handwoven baskets. Serving as an alternative source of income for the residents of Amanga, this project has made a substantial impact on enhancing the quality of life for families in this community. 

“At the onset of our training, I struggled with the techniques. However, through dedication and practice, I can now weave independently,” one of the beneficiaries, Awula Frasimi, said, beaming with smiles. 

In her newfound job, Frasimi, a young mother in her late 20s, sells her crafts for twelve Ghana cedis (GHS 12.00) per basket. On her lucky market days, she could make a sale of over two hundred Ghana cedis (GHS 200). She uses this money to take care of her child and the family. 

“I take pride in weaving and sending my products to market centres for sale. This brings me great joy as I no longer depend solely on farming to support my family,” she added. 

Special appreciation goes to Wilde Ganzen for making this beautiful dream a reality.

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.