A weaving centre has been commissioned for the people of Zorko-Tarongo-Awaa and its environs in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region, to boost straw basket weaving and its related businesses.
The project which started as self-help initiative by straw basket weavers of the community had support from the Blessing Basket Project, Ghana, with funding support from Ten by Three, a United States of America based organisation.
The facility built at a cost of more than GH₵144,000.00), comprised an office space, showroom, warehouse and a weaving hall and would directly benefit about 400 weavers who are mostly women.
Speaking at the commissioning, Mr Abdulai Asuah, the Executive Director of Blessing Basket Project, Ghana, explained that the construction of the facility was the first of its kind in the Bongo District and would be the secretariate of Blessing Basket Project, Ghana, in the district.
He said the construction of the facility was started in 2016 by the community through fundraising durbar and built it to the window level.
Due to lack of funds, he said, the project was stalled, however, Blessing Basket Project, Ghana, secured funding from the Ten by Three and completed the project in 2023, with the aim of boosting basket weaving in the area and providing alternative livelihoods for the rural community.
He said the basket weaving group in the area started with only 25 women and currently the membership stood at over 400 people.
The Executive Director noted that apart from providing raw materials such as the straw (vetiver grass), his organisation had over the years been supporting the basket weavers in the area and the region with skills development to produce quality baskets that met international standards.
It had also created market linkages for the artisans and contributed to increasing income levels of rural people particularly women, reducing poverty and promoting community development.
“We don’t accept middlemen, we pay directly to the artisans so because of that our artisans are heavily paid, we pay them fair trade prices, we don’t cheat them,” he said.
Through that, he said, 15 people in the area who were able to establish three businesses of their own, each graduated from the support to pave way for new members to be recruited.
He said apart from empowering about 2,500 weavers in the region through the straw basket weaving, his outfit had also undertaken lots of corporate social responsibilities in various communities in the region such as the construction of a craft centre, school, computer laboratory stocked with computers and projector, boreholes, furniture, and toilet facilities, among others.
“Next year will be our 20th anniversary and we have provided educational scholarships to about 56 students from Junior High School to the tertiary level and we are still supporting many currently,” he added.
He commended Ten by Three and other stakeholders for their support over the years, especially during the peak of the COVID-19.
Madam Theresa Carrington, the Executive Director of Ten by Three, commended the women for starting the construction of the project and noted that it showed their resilience to drive their own change and called for livelihood support for rural communities.
Ms Atanga Anafo, the Leader of the weavers in the area lauded Blessing Basket Project, Ghana, Ten by Three and other stakeholders for the support and noted that the project would boost their production.
She appealed for a source of potable water.
Naba Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarum, the Paramount Chief, Bongo Traditional Area, who lauded the support for the women in the area, urged the beneficiaries to maintain the facility to ensure lasting benefits.