In about 2010 we were approached by a wonderful local business, The Community Farm Store to supply them with Bolga Baskets from Ghana. They were already a Shea Butter client and great friends, and we were already importing Shea Butter from northern Ghana so it all made sense.
Little did we know the learning and adventure that it would take us on!! But, looking back it was so worth it, and we are so excited with the container load of beautiful baskets that just arrived, and the incredible women that make the baskets.
We sourced our original order from a Ghana organization that was already working with a number of basket making groups and supporting their training. The baskets were great and the Community Farm Store, Island Natural Markets and other customers loved them. When we went to re-order we found that the organization we had bought them through wasn’t really in the same business any longer.
This was actually great. It gave us a chance to work more directly with the women and communities.
Through some of my work with the University for Development Studies in northern Ghana I had met Alfred Akolgo, a young man from Bolgatanga who grew up in and around basket making and had a Masters in Development from UDS.
In May of 2013 I commissioned him to help us organize to work directly with the women’s groups to procure the baskets.
In September 2013 all was in place and I was in Bolgatanga with Alfred making my first visits to our new community groups and all excited about being able to work directly with the communities and, in the future, organizing to help support their development priorities.
Naive as I was, I was planning that we would have baskets made, shipped and on store shelves for Christmas. The adventure of getting the baskets to Canada and ready to share with all of you was…, well, let’s say it was interesting.
Sort of like life, full of unexpected events, some of them almost catastrophic. Fortunately for me I had great people to work with all the way through it and we now have the baskets here and ready for you! And I’m (I hope!) much smarter about how to do this next time.
I just read my first blog post. Maybe I came out of it with my foot in my mouth? Or close? So much of what Baraka Supplies does and is about has to do with women and families and communities. And yet when I look at my first blog post, the pictures were about me and men! Oops!
This time I’ll share a bit about the community and the women of Kperisi Ghana.
Kperisi is a village just outside of Wa in northern Ghana. Kperisi, along with Tapko, are the two main communities and women’s groups that we work with for Shea Butter.
Let’s start with a better photo of the Kperisi Na’s Palace and people of the community (Na means Chief in many northern Ghana languages). A picture that I’m not in! The photo shows some of the Women’s group with the Chief, other elders and leaders and, of course, the children. This was taken shortly after a project to restore the Chief’s Palace, a project that Baraka Supplies was pleased to support both financially and in-kind.
That’s how I feel as I jump into the world of blogging and online content. I’m much more comfortable figuring out business and development problems or helping communities to identify opportunities. But, I realize that if I am to do my best to fulfil the mission that drove my wife and I and our family to create Baraka Supplies then I need to screw up the courage and jump in! Fortunately I have some great help and support (isn’t it wonderful how we can be fortunate enough to attract great people and energy sometimes!).