June 15, 2009
-- BaBa Blankets, a social enterprise that supports African women’s cooperatives through grassroots development efforts and artistic craft sales, is celebrating the opening of its flagship store BaBa Blankets & Crafts at 1330 Prytania Street in New Orleans. The store carries colorful textile bedding & dining accessories, hand-woven baskets, and unique jewelry created by the women’s collectives in Ghana.
“I could not have found a city more perfect to make the home of BaBa Blankets,” shares founder E. Aminata Brown.
“It is true what they say; New Orleans is the cultural crossroads of America. The African legacy is palpable here, as is the African-American tradition. BaBa Blankets is a perfect reflection of the rich marriage between these two great artistic heritages. I feel that we are honoring the greatness in both of these traditions by making New Orleans our home,” says Brown.
E. Aminata Brown founded BaBa Blankets in an effort to empower economically disadvantaged women in Ghana in 2006. Since then the enterprise has provided technical and artistic training as well as sustainable income to the women involved. Today, thirteen Ghanaian women work together to produce artistic home décor textile products. The collective also collaborates with other African women’s cooperatives to produce unique hand-woven baskets. The products are exported primarily to the U.S., and their work has been featured in publications around the world.
In an effort to help the next generation of young women in Ghana’s rural northern villages, BaBa Blankets established the Stay-In-School Tuition Assistance (SISTA) Program. SISTA helps young women from severely impoverished villages to complete their secondary school education, a rarity for girls from rural backgrounds. A percent of all BaBa Blanket’s proceeds goes to the SISTA program.
According to Aminata, BaBa Blankets’ initiatives aim to “break the cycle of poverty” by providing training and income to women who traditionally live on the economic margins of their societies. The work also enables these women to empower their younger counterparts through continued education. A former English Literature & African-American Studies major at Brown University, Aminata has devoted her life work to empowering disadvantaged African women.