"We refuse to half-ass it": Why a U.S. Brand is Donating 100% of Profits to a Ghanaian NGO
By: Asempa Design
Founded in 1987, Aid to Artisans Ghana (ATAG) is a non-governmental organization that works to enhance income levels and generate sustainable employment in Ghana's craft industry. ATAG provides product design and development, business training, market development, advocacy and advisory services. ATAG seeks to be recognized globally as the leading advocate and integrated service provider to the craft industry in Ghana and West Africa by 2020.
Globally, the handicrafts market is nearly a $100 billion industry. Despite its storied vibrancy, diversity, and heritage, and a workforce conservatively estimated in the tens of thousands, Ghana's share of this amounted to a measly $4 million in 2015.
Commenting on the announcement, Godwin Agbeko, Export Manager at ATAG stated: "This announcement could not come at a better moment for ATAG. We are eager to provide direct market access for our artisans, and for continual market feedback to further develop quality products. This partnership with Asempa substantially boosts ATAG's founding vision to impact the lives of Ghana's artisans by providing greater market opportunities for their works."
Asempa Design was founded in 2012 out of an informal partnership between Impact Hub Accra, ATAG and an Accra-based design team. Asempa produces belts for the U.S. and E.U. markets from materials sourced in Ghana.
"It's exciting to see the transformation of Asempa over the last 6 years," says William Senyo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Impact Hub Accra. "Having been witness to the origin story of the brand, I am not surprised by this bold new move. The shared value they seek to pursue with their community of artisans is proof they understand the times and are ready to share a new path to empowering local craftsmen."
"The original focus was on value for all stakeholders, and a healthy return for investors," noted Tim Burkly, Principal at Asempa Management Company, Asempa's parent organization. "It became clear just how indebted to Ghana's master weavers we are, and that our original 25% profit share amounted to little more than a sourcing fee. This was not enough to truly reward those who make this possible."
Through its buying group, Asempa purchases antique and modern kente cloth directly from weavers in the Ashanti and Greater Accra Regions of Ghana. Kente cloth is produced in 4- to 5-inch strips on handlooms that are sewn together into sheets. Depending on the complexity of the weave, these can take anywhere from a couple days to several weeks to complete. Asempa constructs d-ring belts and accessories using these materials.
"We are delighted to join ATAG in fundamentally shifting how we think about social enterprise,"
About Asempa Design:
Asempa Design (www.asempadesign.com) was formed in 2012 out of an informal alliance between Aid to Artisans Ghana, Impact Hub Accra, and Accra-based designers. The Company's mission is to promote, as well as preserve Ghana's culture of high-quality, handwoven textiles. Asempa seeks to build more vibrant markets inside Ghana and throughout the world. The Company produces kente belts and other accessories for the U.S. and E.U. markets and donates 100% of profits to charity.