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Gettysburg College

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression


My research took place almost entirely in Cape Coast but was supplemented with time in Krobo-Odumase and Accra. I worked exclusively with the nonprofit and fair trade international organization Women in Progress, specifically focusing on the women working for their brand name product line Global Mamas. I was a part of 2 batik workshops and 1 bead making workshop, led by Ghanaians hired by Global Mamas. Participant observation and informal interviews went hand in hand during the workshops. I had many an informal discussion and just 5 formal interviews overall. Book research was key to my more general findings and internet sources served as very influential in gaining information for my narrow focus on the one organization. I was able to learn about various positions within Global Mamas, including but not limited to the directors, managers, volunteers, batikers, and bead makers, through my different methods of gathering information in the field and outside of the field.

Book research brought me to learn about the economics, gender issues, and work roles as an outsider in the community of nonprofit organizations. There is more to fair trade than fair wages and it takes a well-rounded organization driven towards human equality to be recognized and deemed such by the Fair Trade Federation. Over the last six years, Women in Progress/ Global Mamas has made leaps and bounds in accessing new markets for their client community and in doing so, has become a self sustainable and constant evolving international organization dedicated to bettering the livelihoods of women across Africa. I was introduced to the handcraft techniques of batik and bead making and became familiarized with ways to join the Global Mamas cooperative or make a difference from outside of the immediate production centers in Ghana.

Giving names and faces to the products created by Global Mamas is one way that social advocacy, awareness, and recognition are promoted. The women working for Global Mamas are given opportunities through the organization that most cannot access so it becomes their responsibilities to share the knowledge and act as inspiring examples for aspiring younger generations. This is turn will facilitate the process of development and connect cultures from overseas. Further studies are needed to explore the benefits of such a system in comparison to those of large multinational corporations.


Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Women's Studies


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