Africans Should Control the Trade of Our Products
Afropolitan Insights is a platform committed to exhibiting and highlighting positive depictions and narratives of Africa and Africans in the diaspora.
trade, bolga baskets, commerce, african products
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16 May Africans should be allowed to take the lead on trade in their countries

It’s impossible for me to list the organizations around the world created just to “save the Africans.” Of course we appreciate the work done by these organizations but the efforts of African indigenes shouldn’t be overlooked. From Tony Elemulu, a giant of commerce, to Bethlehem Alemu, a social venture genius, we are doing some pretty amazing things. CNN’s   for African start-ups also showcases young Africans doing amazing things right here in Africa. The real issue arises when we are pushed out of business by foreign companies that exploit our local talent and resources.

For decades, organizations around the world have sold Bolga Baskets, many tagged with photos of weavers, and fair trade labels. After reading a research report about Ghana’s Bolga weavers, I decided to check out the industry on my own. In February 2016, I started my own social venture called  . The Bolga weavers hail from Ghana’s Upper East Region, an area known mostly for farming and basket weaving. This age old craft remains dominated by organizations that market a few basket types as charitable purchases, but few organizations work creatively within the industry. Unfortunately, these baskets are often mislabeled and the credit for the craft is not even attributed to Ghana’s Upper East. Design Dua was created as a locally run and managed initiative that works with weavers to create more than just charitable market baskets, but internationally marketable handmade design products. Our goal is to foster creativity in an age-old industry that will bring more commerce to the region through training and innovation.

 started selling our products in March and we have experienced tremendous support from the local community, other basket retailers, and customers around the world. Surprisingly, we have faced tremendous backlash from some “competitors” in the industry. In the recent year, the made in Ghana has gained tremendous popularity among instagram’s Mothers to be. Due to the amount of time and skill it takes to make that particular basket, not many retailers have been able to sell it with consistency. When Design Dua started to specialize in this product, it caused quite a stir.  One retailer, who marketed the as fair trade products from “Ghana, South Africa,” went as far as to troll several positive reports about our products, purchase and display our products as her own, and go through her supplier to complain about our company to the local weaving association.

Ghana’s Bolga baskets have been marketed internationally by foreign importers in the U.S. and Europe for decades. Although there are some Ghanaians retailing beautiful items from our artisan work, the industry is dominated by foreign organizations. Like many great things that come from Africa, we rarely get the credit for the work that is done here. Our designs, our hard work, and our initiatives, are often attributed to companies overseas. Although we appreciate the support brought in from foreign organizations, we have a right to utilize our skills and resources for our own development. If we don’t begin to play a role in industries dominated by companies that are not local, we can not foster growth and innovation within those industries. This is the type of innovation that will offer more opportunity to the masses to sustain themselves. We should continue to advocate for our local artisans, promote commercial development, and create more opportunity for people throughout Ghana.
Coretta Owusu is a lawyer, advocate, and entrepreneur. Coretta has over seven years of experience as an entrepreneur, business professional, and consultant in the United States and West Africa. Coretta leads Design Dua with her passion for design, creativity, and change. Coretta has a passion for Africa and aims to create opportunity for rural artisans through community empowerment, education, and awareness .  Coretta created Design Dua. to display the true beauty of African design to the world by giving locals an opportunity to truly benefit from the art they create.




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