The story of Baskets

Basket weaving has helped bring much needed income to the villages surrounding Bolgatanga. The traditional skill which has been handed down from generation to generation provides employment to approximately 10,000 people, mostly women. An average of two baskets a week can be woven by a woman who also has household chores, firewood collection, water collection, washing and the care of her children to tend to each day.

Bolgatanga is the largest town in the Upper East region of Ghana, about 20 miles South of the Burkina Faso border and very close to the edge of the Sahara Desert. The sun roasts the villages of northern Ghana year round, except during the 2-3 months of rainy season when it rains, rains, rains. The people living there are traditionally farmers and herdsman, but with its variable climate farming is very difficult. Local women supplement the family income by weaving the baskets we refer to as Bolga baskets which are hand-woven using locally-grown straw.

African Market Baskets™ founder and CEO, Steve Karowe has been importing from Africa for 25 years. For the past 12 years he has worked directly with artisans in Bolgatanga and helps support over 1,000 weavers and their families.

“One of the greatest parts of importing from Africa is seeing the positive impact we have on artisans and their families,” Steve says.

Steve visits Africa regularly to meet with the weavers and hold town hall meetings where he solicits feedback and listens to concerns and needs.  He works with each weaver’s group to ensure that products are being made to the highest quality and design standards. And, he oversees Every Basket Helps™ goodwill projects with the goal of reducing poverty in the region.

By working to Fair Trade standards, African Market Baskets™ makes sure that the weavers are happy with conditions and wages. Strong bonds have been formed as African Market Baskets™ and founder  & CEO Steve Karowe,  have worked with many of the same people for over a decade.

More details about FAIR TRADE:

African Market Baskets™ is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

African Market Baskets™ strives to be known for three things: Quality, Value, and Integrity. For 25 years, founder and CEO, Steve Karowe has used the Fair Trade business concept of economic partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect.

Ensuring that the weavers are satisfied is of top importance to Steve. He makes it his business to see that they have comfortable working conditions and fair wages. Prices are negotiated by first asking what the artisans want to charge for a particular item. If their price is workable, it is always accepted. If the price is too high, he explains what price he can pay and asks if the weaver can produce it for that price and still make a profit. He regularly pays much of the money in advance of receiving goods in order to help the weavers with cash flow and he always does his best to make sure they are happy with the final price.

In all business dealings African Market Baskets™ follows Fair Trade Federation principles:

  • Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers
  • Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships
  • Promote Fair Trade
  • Pay Promptly and Fairly
  • Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
  • Ensure the Rights of Children
  • Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
  • Respect Cultural Identity
  • Building Capacity

African Market Baskets™ is also a member of Green America. We support their mission to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

Every Basket Helps

African Market Baskets™ founder and CEO, Steve Karowe formed Every Basket Helps™, a non-profit organization created to help manage humanitarian projects in the villages of Ghana.  African Market Baskets™ donates 10% of its profits to Every Basket Helps™.

Steve travels to Africa to meet with the weavers regularly and to oversee Every Basket Helps™ projects which include:

  • Providing basic school supplies for the weavers’ children annually
  • Organizing and funding health care for the weavers and their families annually
  • Funding and building a community weaving center that serves two villages and over 400 weavers (2009)

Thanks to all of you who help support the weavers by buying baskets from African Market Baskets™.