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G-lish Ghana A social enterprise in Africa Tue, 28 Jan 2014 11:54:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sydney Art Exhibition Tue, 28 Jan 2014 10:52:26 +0000 G-Lish Foundation is holding an exhibition, “Finfinhi”: Little by Little, from 6-17 February at Pine Street Creative Arts Centre in Chippendale, Sydney. The exhibition will display 40 key pieces from 2 year’s work with the women artisans in Ghana.



How did G-lish come to be?

Co-founders Godwin Yidana and Gayle Pescud

Co-founders Godwin Yidana and Gayle Pescud

G-lish Foundation was registered in 2010 as a non-governmental organisation in Ghana. The co-founders, Godwin Yidana from Bolgatanga, Ghana, and Gayle Pescud from Sydney, Australia, met in 2008 . Gayle was already working in fair trade in Ghana and Cambodia for a few years by then and Godwin had done non-profit projects while completing his undergraduate degree in Ghana. They met over a mutual interest in doing something to resolve the Bawku conflict and decided to hold “a day of peace” in Bawku on the UN’s Day of Peace and Ceasefire on September 21, 2008. They managed to pull it off against many challenges and a fair bit of danger—no one had ever brought the two warring sides together for a peaceful game of soccer. That’s another story.

They returned to live up north in Bolgatanga in 2009, wanting to ‘do something with baskets’, when Godwin discovered how to transform the drinking water plastic bags that clean drinking water is sold in, and which are littered everywhere, into twine in the same way that straw is twisted for baskets. We realised we were onto something special. Recycled plastic and cloth baskets had never been done before. With our backgrounds in community development and project management, fair trade, craft production and colour and design, we knew we could develop this into something more. We also had savings from Gayle’s previous work to get us through the first year. We made tiny prototypes which gradually got bigger. Then we added cloth, based on family in Australia’s suggestions.

We persuaded a group of five women from Godwin’s village of Dulugu to try making baskets from recycled materials in 2009: Adandina, Julie, Laadi, Paulina and Atoore. They still work with us today and are among our best weavers and artisans, as you’ll see in the exhibition.

One of the first recycled baskets

One of the first recycled baskets


Laadi and 350 cut plastic bags ready for twisting

We’ve used over 313,000 plastic bags in basket and art work production since 2009. We count them as we pay the people who cut and twist them by the bunch of 200 pieces so we do keep track. We also figured out how to transform African wax print cloth into twine, and have used over 1,456 yards of scrap (recycled) cloth.

G-lish now works with about 70 women and 40 young people across three communities.

We buy all the plastic and cloth from small businesses in the region—restaurants, shops and seamstresses—they don’t give it to us for free. We pay all the producers who cut the plastic and cloth and those who twist it higher than fair trade prices for their time. Dozens of people derive income throughout the supply chain for our work, not just the weavers. But then there’s the weavers, without whom none of this is possible.

Each art piece in the exhibition uses around 3 yards of recycled cloth and 100-300 pieces of recycled plastic, depending on its size.

Our weavers experimented with cloth-only pieces and mixed cloth and plastic pieces. The mixture of plastic and cloth has a pointillist effect when it blends together so that the plastic almost disappears into the piece, but it also provides contrast to the colour and helps define line and pattern.

This project was funded by the Australian High Commission in Ghana through their direct aid programme. We also undertook fair trade research for straw baskets as part of this project and the outcome of the interviews with six straw basket producing communities across the region, as well as basket buyers globally, will be released in the month following the exhibition.

Atoore’s art work

Are the pieces for sale and, if so, will the proceeds go to the artisans?

Yes, everything is for sale. You can see all pieces for sale on our website (after the launch date of February 5) and purchase them online there or through us at the gallery—we’ll be there every day from 6th – 17th to answer questions.

Yes, 50-60% of each sale from the exhibition will be paid to the artisan who made it, directly. The balance of the sales price will help cover costs of the exhibition such as shipping, printing, extra days hire, catering, postage, and so on, and help cover Ghana staff salaries so that we can continue to work with the community as a viable entity that is not dependent on external funding. In other words, we are a social enterprise which operates as a business, not a charity or aid organisation.

The artisans were already paid a nominal price for each piece in 2013 as part of the project from which this art work was developed. Those rates were based on higher than World Fair Trade Organisation ( fair trade rates for the time spent creating each piece. However, each artisan will now receive an additional, much bigger payment based on the sales price received in the exhibition.

Working on art work during one workshop

Working on art work during one workshop

In this community, most women earn roughly $1 per day, profit, on whatever they do. That’s around $365/year income. We project each of these pieces to sell in the $300-$700 range. At 50% of the sales price, that’s $150-$350 per piece, which is just under half, and up to one year’s average income per piece. This will be unimaginable income for these women, especially if they sell more than one piece. This has potential to revolutionise their lives which is why we undertook the project in the first place. We envisaged an opportunity to create truly life-changing income for communities and this is one way we could conceive of doing it with our combined resources and skills.

Most women opened a bank account for the first time in 2011 as part of our Savings Club program in which they formed small groups to save the income from baskets, which is common practice in Ghana anyway. They’re likely to deposit this art work income into an interest-earning account or for their children’s education. Some will probably build a new room in their mud-brick compound. It’s up to them, but we try to help them learn how to increase their income through life planning financial literacy workshops where they write their goals and our staff help them figure out what they need to do to reach those goals.

How does G-lish engage with individuals in the community?

Winnowing in Village

Production is still the core activity and we work with the producers—cutters and twisters of plastic and cloth, and weavers—every day across three villages. We have two paid staff in Ghana and two unpaid staff in Australia. Instead of asking producers to visit our office, our staff visit them. It saves producers time and allows them to tend to household work which they still have to do. We deliver all the recycled materials to their door step, pick up finished pieces from them, and pay them at their homes so they don’t waste time travelling to us. We have one motorbike for transport, and two bicycles! We do workshops on quality control with baskets and also on design and colour.

We also undertake specific projects to help the social and environmental impact in this neglected, poor and distant region, the Upper East Region. It’s 800 kms north of the capital, Accra. It’s the second poorest region in Ghana. Over 70% of people are illiterate and only 4% get to university. Historically, most people don’t finish primary school, but that’s now changing.

Tree Planting

We also plant trees in the communities where we work. One problem we discovered, though, was that mango trees (which grow everywhere) are in demand and people stole them at night after we planted them. Same with teak and cashew. We raise them from discarded seeds and now give the seedlings away to local households so they can plant them in their compound. This means they keep a close eye on them and they have a vested interest in their survival; it’s a matter of pride and great value to have a mango, teak or cashew tree. It feeds you and gives you the coolest shade in the village in the hot season.

Most of our women weavers can’t read or write. They either didn’t go to school at all or didn’t finish primary school. Less than five finished high school. We hope to run what we call Night School for Producers which will teach everyone to read and write in 9 months in both their local language, Frafra, and English. We hope to raise funds for that later this year. We budgeted $6000 for 9 months of classes for 50 people, mostly women.

Gender-based violence workshops and counselling

G-lish weavers showing how a basket is made, from beginning to end

Domestic violence is a huge problem in this region. However, we’ve noticed that violence decreased due to the empowerment women felt and received through the work with G-lish. For example, women in certain households now out-earn their husbands and the men, in turn, defer to women for decisions (which is unheard of) and the violence reduced as a result of the perception that came with this empowerment. They also began to act with more confidence as a result of feeling valued, being paid fair prices and actually being valued for their work, and from the camaraderie they developed with other women in the village also working with us. We visit them every day to undertake production—but it’s not all business. Our staff spend time listening to problems and informally mediate family feuds and this has made a huge difference; they feel listened to and respected as well. Men are also responding positively to our involvement in their lives and its lifted their spirits too which has decreased stress and, thus, violence to an extent. We’ve seen a big change in the first women we worked with. They’ve gone from timid to confident, funny and not afraid to express their opinions. You can read more about our impact on our site.

Working with youth

We have also started a dialogue programme for young people in Junior High Schools to informally discuss gender-based violence and its impact on their lives, the lives of their families and what they can do to address it in their communities.  We use soccer as an organising tool for bringing the youth together in a safe and non-confronting environment to discuss this very important issue openly and honestly.

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2013 Round Up from G-lish Tue, 31 Dec 2013 08:41:44 +0000 You can read our 2013 Round-Up here. It’s a pdf document. Right click to open in a new tab or to download and read on your computer. See many of the fabulous art pieces made in 2013. The exhibition dates for the Sydney art exhibition will be released in January. Meanwhile,


We want to thank everyone for your support on Facebook and Twitter, and visiting our online shop and web site. We especially want to thank all of our customers, new and old. Without your purchases, G-lish could not exist. It’s because you buy our products that we can help transform some of the poorest communities in Ghana by giving them choices—economic empowerment through income generation; cleaner places to live—environmental regeneration through recycling and waste management, and through raising trees; and by creating awareness of social issues among the next generation via conflict management and peacebuilding workshops and soccer matches.

2013 figures:

  • 254 products made. Exported 90% of products to Australia, USA, the Netherlands, and several other countries. 10% were sold in Ghana at Trashy Bags in Accra.
  • Worked with 61 producers, half of whom are weavers, the other half are involved in recycled materials production: cutting and twisting recycled plastic and cloth. Numerous extra village women and men supported us during the art workshops spending days untwisting cloth and plastic to help the artisans so they could concentrate on designing and creating art work.
  • 25 weavers have been given creativity, design, and colour theory training to develop their creativity and design skills to create unique woven art work: Atoore showing hers below.
  • 250 straw basket weavers have increased awareness about fair prices from our work visiting 6 villages under the Fair Market Project funded by the Australian High Commission
  • 50 international buyers of straw baskets were surveyed on prices paid for STRAW baskets

Atoore art work

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Peace One Day, 2013 Tue, 24 Sep 2013 05:24:02 +0000 G-lish Foundation’s International Day Of Peace And Cease Fire activities included a discussion on domestic violence and how it affects the individual. This topic was chosen from the “Who Will You Make Peace With?” theme which underpinned Peace One Day, 2013 events globally. Domestic violence is also a serious problem in the community of Dulugu, G-lish’s core village. Afterwards the youth played a football match dubbed “Match of Peace” between Dulugu Junior High  School Team and Dulugu Community Youth Team.

Ambrose A. Atogyake, G-lish Foundation’s Program Manager, led the day and facilitated the discussion on domestic violence.



He started with quotes:

“If you want to make peace with your enemy you have to work with your enemy, then he becomes your partner.” By Nelson Mandela.

Ambrose gave a brief history of the international day of peace. It was established by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, and strengthened by resolution 55/282 in 2001, to designate September 21st as the official day of international peace. The day coincides with the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The discussion on domestic violence centered on:

  • participants’ understanding of domestic violence;
  • how domestic violence has affected them or people in the community;
  • their advice to adults.

Participants were mainly youth. Ambrose asked them about their understanding and their experiences. These are the responses:

Youth 1

One youth gave a definition of domestic violence as, “a situation in the family where the man and the woman are unable to live together in peace either because they are fighting or quarrelling among themselves resulting in their children not being able to concentrate in school thus drawing them back in their education”.

Another participant said that domestic violence affects every member of the family in varying ways. On the part of children he said that if children see their parents fighting all the time they become emotionally disturbed and are therefore not be able to concentrate in school. He further said domestic violence was a very common occurrence in the community and didn’t understand why a man and a woman would marry in love and later become violent towards each other. He advised parents to continue to love each other so as to avoid treating each other violently. He added that parents should also be patient towards each other in order to avoid violence on each other or on their children.

Youth 3

One other participant said that domestic violence has to do with a person abusing close relations such as family members (husband or wife and children). He added that victims of domestic violence are affected in various ways: physical injuries through beating or fighting, emotional injuries through verbal attacks such as quarrels and insults, and economic abuse.

He gave an account of a case where a child was whipped with an electric cable by her father for taking GH₵1.00 (50 cents) without asking permission. He confirmed that it was very common in the community to see couples physically fighting or quarrelling, resulting in the children from such families not doing well in school or dropping out of school all together. The participant advised adults to avoid violence in their families in order to promote peace in the family, the community, the country and the world as a whole.

A female participant narrated a case of domestic violence where hot sand was forced into the mouth of a girl by her step mother for bed-wetting. The girl sustained very serious burns in the mouth which took several weeks to heal. The end result was that the girl dropped out of school. The participant added her voice to the advice to adults to maintain peace and harmony in their families in order to avoid physical injuries and to promote their children’s education.

Youth 2

A young teacher in the community narrated a case of domestic violence where an intelligent female pupil of the community school had to drop out of school due physical abuse in her family. He said the girl had absented herself from school for a number of days, so the teachers looked for her. When she came, she told them that her father had been beating the mother and, for fear of further beatings, the mother left the family and the girl was also warned by her father not to come to school again, hence her absence from school. On the girl’s return to the house, she was beaten up by the father for telling them what had been going on in the family. Out of fear the girl also ran away from the father to join the mother. He alluded to the fact that the issue of domestic violence was a common occurrence in the community and they, as teachers, witness it very frequently. He advised parents to exercise patience in resolving issues in the family either than resorting to violence especially the beating of those members of the family who are not strong.

G-lish Foundation has intended to address domestic violence from the outset, when it began operating in 2010. In 2014 we will carry out our first peace and conflict workshops with adults, which will centre on violence in the home and how to reduce it, as well as in the broader community.



Dulugu Junior High School team and Dulugu Community Youth team.

The selection of the two teams was to get the maximum involvement of the school children who are the future leaders in peace activities so that they might understand the need for peace in their families and the larger society.

from the Junior High School team wore green jerseys while those from the Community Youth team were in yellow jerseys. The match kicked off at about 9:00 am. Though the match was a peace match, both teams were determined to win.

At the end of the first half the scores stood at one all. The teams came in for the second half more determined, but neither side could find the net, so the match ended one all. The game went into penalty shoot-out. Dulugu Youth team emerged victor over the Junior High School team.

Ambrose expressed his gratitude to the players as well as the match officials and funs for making time to honour the activities. He then presented one new football each to the two teams.

Shoot Out


Youth who will participate





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Jobs with G-lish Ghana Sun, 07 Apr 2013 07:47:16 +0000 In the next week, G-lish will have two exciting positions up for grabs.

We’re looking for two international volunteers (no fees for you) to come and join us for 2 months anytime from now until July.

No volunteer fees–volunteers need only cover their own living and travel costs.

One volunteer will focus on helping streamline office processes so this person needs experience in admin and systems, preferably with a handle on Excel. We’re seeking someone with over five years full-time work experience for this position.

The other volunteer will help develop our volunteer program to take it to the next level. This person will have three years work experience.

Click the video–it’s only 10 seconds–but you get an idea where we are and what we do. More to come soon.

Both volunteers will immerse themselves in the local culture, living with local families in modern homes and spending time with our women producers and staff so you can help report on and shape G-lish’s programs for the coming year.

If you’re interested, or know anyone who might like to spend two months in Ghana with no fees attached, please let us know (message) or pass this on. We’ll have the descriptions available next week. We’ll select the best two applicants based on merit. Email gaylepescud at or gayle at

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How to make recycled baskets Tue, 22 Jan 2013 19:23:43 +0000 This is a drawing we did to show the process of making a recycled basket. There are many steps involved in the process. At least five producers are involved throughout the process, and several G-lish staff who transport materials from one point (cutting) to the next (twisting). G-lish staff also manage inventory of raw materials: plastic before it’s washed, after it’s washed, after it’s cut, after it’s twisted, but before distributing it to weavers, and after sending it to weavers. The same steps are needed for cloth. If you click the image, it will increase to its full size. (Don’t mind the orange people.)

How G-lish makes baskets

How G-lish makes baskets

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The Big 2012 Newsletter: Thank you! Sat, 05 Jan 2013 15:46:32 +0000 You can download G-lish’s 2012 newsletter by clicking the link: what G-lish did, and who we have to thank, in 2012. For best results, right-click the link and select “save link as”. It will automatically download as a PDF document to your selected location. Voila. 3.7 MBs–5 minutes.

Lots of thank yous to all our supporters inside. Lots of photos. And a particularly exciting event on the very last day of 2012.

Looking to 2013, one of our plans is to launch an online course on How to Start a Non-Profit, NGO or Social Enterprise anywhere.  We receive emails from people all around the world who read our sites asking for advice on how to do this. We can’t respond individually to all the questions, so we decided to give what we know instead: a practical, experience-based, program focusing on how to get off the ground and succeed in your first six months, like we did—starting by July 2013. If you have any questions, contact us at godwin AT or gaylepescud AT

The photo below was taken by Anthony of Combi Coffee in Melbourne, in July 2012.

Recycled Bolga baskets

9 baskets, sitting on a wall!

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Australian High Commission visits G-lish Sun, 16 Dec 2012 14:41:28 +0000 On the 21st of November, 2012, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, HE William (Billy) Williams, and the Public Affairs Officer, Mr Walter Kudzodzi, visited G-lish Foundation on a four-day tour to the Northern and Upper East Regions to launch development projects funded by the Australian Government.

Bolga baskets with High Commissioner Australia

HE William (Billy) Williams with G-lish basket weavers and producers and Gayle

In September 2012, G-lish was awarded funding under the Direct Aid Program of the Australian High Commission to carry out a GHC 28,883.00 (approx US$ 15,000.00) project: Community Artisan and Fair Trade Market Development Project, which will run until June, 2013.

G-lish staff and producers were delighted to welcome Mr Williams and Mr Kudzodzi at the office on the 21st of November. We had a fruitful discussion about G-lish’s history and present activities, the Australian High Commission’s activities in the three northern regions and in the West African sub-region. We discussed the difference the funded project will make to basket producers in the Upper East Region, and how it fits with G-lish Foundation’s mission and long-term objectives.

G-lish weavers showing how a basket is made, from beginning to end

After meeting in the office we travelled to the main village where G-lish works and met producers working in their compound, and weavers working in the shade of a tree, showcasing our wonderful, hard-working and welcoming producers, the environment where they live and work, and G-lish’s efforts in sustainable income generation projects.

One of G-lish’s co-founder’s, Godwin Yidana, said:

“It was great to receive the funding, but also humbling to have the High Commissioner himself visit us and go from house to house to meet the women involved in the project. It made me feel that we’re doing something right and that there are people who, even though you might not see on a daily basis, really care about what you’re doing and that makes you want to do more.”

Showing Mr Williams how recycled plastic and cloth is interwoven

As an Australian, G-lish’s other co-founder, Gayle Pescud, was equally excited to be meeting the High Commissioner, the representative for G-lish’s first large-scale funding opportunity, and to be meeting “someone from home”. She said:

“It was a great honour and I felt proud to be Australian when Mr Williams and Mr Kudzodzi stepped into our office and gave us our first candid reactions (which were positive!) to the first art work pieces created under the community artisan element of the project.”

The project has three major objectives.

1)    Community Artisan Development

  • Develop a community of artists through capacity building creativity workshops and training on the fundamentals of colour and design.
  • Develop an art market for woven, recycled fibre art pieces and textile art internationally
  • Increase opportunities for high-level income generation for impoverished communities in rural Ghana.
  • This fits with G-lish’s long-term vision to develop an Arts and Crafts Centre in Bolgatanga which currently has no major tourist attraction near the city, to which visiting artists and crafters can come and teach and exchange techniques with Bolgatanga’s expert weavers.

Weaving magic with Walter and the G-lish stars

2)    Fair Trade Market Development

  • Increase income levels for thousands of individuals across the Upper East Region, with many positive outcomes.
  • Analyse the traditional straw Bolga basket market through a series of meetings and programs in multiple basket-making communities across the region
  • Assess prices paid to producers against fair trade prices and income levels.
  • Influence international and domestic buyers to pay fair prices to producers for woven baskets made by straw
  • Reduce or completely close the gap between producers and buyers to cut out the middle men traders and increase prices paid to producers.
  • Compile this information into a report and reference materials for buyers and the World Fair Trade Organisation to help buyers know what a producer will take home at bench-marked price points and basket types
  • Document the supply chain so that it is transparent to all parties
  • The final reports will be made available to the public. We welcome any questions in the meantime.

3)    Become a certified fair trade organisation

Obtain fair trade certification for G-lish Foundation, as an organisation, under the World Fair Trade Organisation. Fair trade certification is a rigorous and continuous monitoring and evaluation program which lets buyers and anyone who wants to support fair trade in developing countries know that the organisation’s producers’ lives are enhanced, not worsened, through their work with G-lish—and this helps G-lish sell more products (marketing) which helps G-lish meet all of its mission objectives: generate more income for impoverished rural producers, regenerate the degraded environment, develop projects that create a prosperous and safe future.

Incidentally, that’s little Gertrude (a “G” baby) looking up at her Dad, a plastic cutter. Her Mum, Laadi, is the weaver closest to Mr Williams. She’s a bit of a star among the weavers and kids at that family compound.

Mr Williams checking how weavers work (and Julie being cheeky)!

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Combi Coffee Visits G-lish Ghana Thu, 04 Oct 2012 16:01:34 +0000 In July, Combi Coffee (Melbourne, Australia) proprietors, Anthony Baker and Penny Loughnan, visited G-lish in Bolgatanga for a week. It was one of the best weeks we’ve ever had!

They have been selling baskets in their cafes for the past year, as well as supporting G-lish by donating tips from their cafes to support tree planting and Green Clubs activities, among others. Psst. We were quietly nervous about not having any coffee making facilities (except a tiny plunger) for our café owner visitors. But Anthony was up and making coffee—cup by cup—for all of us first thing each morning. It was a treat to have coffee made by an expert coffee maker!


Anthony and Penny in the village

Anthony and Penny in the village


Then he was out shooting photos with Penny or Godwin. He took off with Godwin on rounds in the villages and town and come back triumphant with about twenty new friends after each visit, promising to send the photos to us to hand out after they returned to Australia. Proof below!


Anthony taking photos of kids with baskets and new designs near house

Anthony taking photos of kids with baskets and new designs near house


Penny became enamoured with all the children and the people she met around the house and in the villages too. It was like two Aussie pied pipers out and around our home and town when Penny and Anthony went exploring.

One of the most valuable outcomes for G-lish was their feedback—right here. Since Penny and Anthony hear directly from their customers at the cafe, they passed those suggestions, as well as their own, on to us.


Penny working on new designs in the village with Affii

Penny working on new designs in the village with Affii


Penny suggested two new products based on this feedback. One was a long-handled bag that’s about half the size of our popular basket. We jumped in and tested the bag that week. This is a photo of Penny with Affii, a weaver, creating the very first “Penny” bag.

We visited the village where baskets are made a couple of times. It was the perfect time of year—height of the rainy season and crop growing—green, cool, lush.

Penny and Anthony explained that a lot more effort and work is involved in making these products than they ever imagined before coming to visit. It’s hard to convey the effort involved in words, and it felt rewarding to have this valued and understood by these wonderfully positive friends and customers.

At the end of the week, two Penny bags were ready and whizzed home to Melbourne to test on café customers. Very positive feedback so far. It was an honour to develop new products with a former fashion expert!

To all Combi Café customers: thank you for buying baskets and thank you for your ideas and contributions!


Penny trying basket

Penny trying basket


We received a huge box of over 200 photos last week from Anthony and Penny. They were laminated, labeled and categorized into the groups we had to distribute them to. It was our great pleasure, last week, to hand out the photos that Anthony promised to send.

Here are a few photos being received by the families around our home, and some of those we work with in the village as well. Also some from the boys who play soccer and the local motor mechanic fixing our old bike. See the original photo here and the photo immediately below! What a joy!

Making the journey to Ghana from Australia is tough. Making the journey from Accra to Bolga is almost tougher. Not many people do either. It truly was an honour to know them here and to share experiences with each other. Meeting them in person and sharing our home and work is one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had on a personal and professional level.

On behalf of everyone here in Bolga, THANK YOU to Anthony and Penny for your great company, positivity, generosity and fun! We can’t wait to meet you again somewhere on this big old hunk of rock.


Children of weavers in village

Children of basket weavers in village


Weavers and their children with photos

Weavers and their children with photos


Soccer team from basket village with photos

Soccer team from basket village with photos


A child of a basket weaver with her photo!

A child of a basket weaver with her photo!


Local mechanics and family with photos

Local mechanics and family with photos


A producer and her child with photos

A producer and her child with photos


Godwin and Anthony at work

Godwin and Anthony at work



Traditional basket and Baobab

A traditional basket maker proudly shows her basket in progress. Look at that huge Baobab tree behind! Hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

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Bolga basket online sale and updates Thu, 16 Aug 2012 14:50:25 +0000 Gayle of G-lish trying to show off a "Modern" Bolga basket

Gayle of G-lish trying to show off a “Modern” Bolga basket

Your basket purchase gives 5 days of fair trade income to impoverished rural Ghanaians

We have a sale during August: 30% off every purchase of 2 items (or more, if you like). Our online store is recycled Bolga baskets. Enter “AUGUST” at the checkout and you will receive your discount before going to the Paypal hosted payment site.

For those wishing to buy 3 or more items, we can offer a further discount due to the fact that the shipping component of the cost decreases the more items purchased. Please email us at or with the items, how many of each, your country for postage, and we’ll write back with the best price possible until 31 August.

What G-lish Does

For those not fully familiar with G-lish Foundation, one of our main activities is to produce recycled Bolga baskets in the Upper East Region of Ghana to help impoverished communities get a fair and reliable income for their labour.

Unlike traditional Aid organisations, G-lish uses trade (basket sales), not aid, to make a difference. The sale of products provides income. We produce beautiful products by skilled weavers who’ve spent years honing their craft. People get paid fairly for their work.

For every basket produced, we provide 5 days of work to skilled basket producers in impoverished rural Ghana.

Penny of Combi Coffee with Affii watching the basket making process

Penny of Combi Coffee with Affii watching the basket making process

The 5 days are broken down like this:

1 day for a plastic cutter to cut the recycled pure water bags into long strips.

1 day for a plastic twister to twist the plastic strips into twine for weaving

½ day for a recycled cloth cutter to cut recycled cloth into strips—cloth is much easier to cut than the plastic

½ day for a recycled cloth twister to twist the cloth into twine for weaving

At this point, the twisted plastic and cloth go to the weaver.

Another 2 days, on average, for the skilled basket weaver to turn the recycled plastic and cloth into one of the beautiful baskets you see on this site. That you can also buy at our shop on sale NOW.

Paulina making a recycled Bolga basket

Paulina making a recycled Bolga basket

We work with 67 producers now.

And that income helps G-lish producers put their children in school. It helps them begin other micro-businesses besides weaving. It helps them buy much-needed medicines and the basics like food, clothing and items to maintain their homes.

A Pretty Hot Number

One pure water plastic bag in Ghana

One pure water plastic bag. This is how we drink water every day. At least 250 of these bags are used in every recycled Bolga basket.

Since we began producing baskets using recycled pure water plastic bags in 2010, we have consumed….189,800 plastic “pure water” bags in production.

It helps that each “Modern Basket” uses at least 250 pure water plastic bags.

How do you know this number is right?

We record, by hand, every unit of 200 pieces of plastic we receive in a spreadsheet for that producer because recycling producers get paid by the 200 bags that are cut and twisted for weaving. This is entered into the electronic version of the same spread sheet. Simple MS Excel.

It helps us track how much plastic each basket uses on average. It also helps us figure out, therefore, how much it costs to produce each basket. It helps us track how much that producer makes. It also helps us track how much plastic we consume as an organisation, overall.

If you look at a close up of a basket, you can see every second line is plastic—this is the pure water bags. You can also see the base of the handles is pure water twine.

189,800 pure water plastic bags consumed in recycled Bolga basket and bag production since July 2010!

Recycled Bolga Basket and pure water plastic

A lot of people ask about pure water plastic bags we use in production. This is one of them next to our basket. Zoom in on the basket and you can see that every second row is plastic! It’s hidden between the beautiful cloth.

That’s 664,300 grams of plastic or 664 kilos of plastic that is otherwise burned or discarded into waterways.

We think upcycling into beautiful, functional, sculptural baskets is a better use of the material.

Penny from Combi Coffee trying out new basket designs

Penny from Combi Coffee trying out new basket designs

We thank you for helping us make a major social, environmental and economic impact here in remote northern Ghana.

Help the producers most by:

Buying baskets in Australia at

Melbourne: Combi Coffee’s cafes in Elwood and Albert Park. They have other beautiful fair trade products there besides our baskets. They make the best coffee in Melbourne (award-winning, organic) which likely means it’s the best coffee in Australia (Melbourne is the cafe capital of Australia).

Sydney: Tali Gallery in Rozelle, Sydney.

Buying Baskets in Ghana

We sell the baskets and bags in Ghana at Trashy Bags in Accra and the Lady Volta Shop in Ho.

Buying recycled Bolga baskets online

We sell the baskets online at Recycled Bolga Baskets! 30% off during August!

This much fits in a recycled Bolga basket! Great for shopping. Pineapple anyone?

This much fits in a recycled Bolga basket! Great for shopping. Pineapple anyone?


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A Seedling Nursery is Born in Ghana Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:07:55 +0000 G-lish began raising seedlings in its spanking new seedling nursery in Ghana in February this year. A team of G-lish staff, Green Clubs students and international volunteers will plant the seedlings in schools and the broader community in the rainy season—about June onwards.

We are raising moringa seedlings, mangoes, neem, and local fruit trees. Have a look at the seedlings’ growth in these two pictures.

Seedlings 6 April 2012

Seedlings 6 April 2012

Variety of Seedlings April 30

Variety of Seedlings April 30

The progress from April 6, the top image, to April 30, the bottom image, is quite exciting. You can see mangoes have sprouted on the left, moringa have grown in the middle, and neem have also sprouted on the right.

How does the seedling raising work?

A dedicated employee, Solomon, is in charge of the seedling project. Solomon collects seeds by exploring the local area on foot and picking up seeds from the ground. He grows the seeds in a mixture of sand and dirt in recycled water bags—the same ones used to make recycled baskets! He waters the seedlings in the morning and evening, often helped by his daughter, Portia (the cute little girl in these photos). It’s amazing to see the results. And wonderful to know that growing your own trees is that simple—we encourage you to plant some seeds and see the results for yourself. Please send us photos if you do!

Portia helps Solomon plant new seeds

Portia helps Solomon plant new seeds


Preparing the "Pure Water" plastic bags for seedling raising

Preparing the "Pure Water" plastic bags for seedling raising


Solomon preparing to plant a local fruit seed

Solomon preparing to plant a local fruit seed


Seed planted in soil and recycled pure water plastic bag

Seed planted in soil and recycled pure water plastic bag


Watering Seedlings

Watering Seedlings

Moringa and neem give great health benefits. The leaves of the moringa are highly nutritious and prized locally.


Some health benefits of the Moringa leaf

This image of Moringa is courtesy of Trees for Life.

Neem leaves are anti-parasitic and have many other wonderful properties. Boiling and drinking neem tea helps reduce malarial fever and it is commonly used to treat malaria here. Neem are hardy desert trees and provide excellent shade when they’re fully grown. Mangoes provide wonderful shade and delicious fruit.

Caring for trees planted in 2011

Solomon’s tree work also includes cycling to our core basket village to water the trees planted last year, every afternoon. As there is no running water, at the village Solomon carries water in containers on a donkey cart from the bore hole to where the trees are planted. He then carries the water from tree to tree, ensuring they get enough water to survive until the next rainy season.

Environmental Regeneration

This work falls under G-lsh’s environmental regeneration program. One of the key aims of this program is to regenerate the degraded environment by planting trees in the communities where G-lish works.

Why say degraded? Oxfam’s site explains it like this:

Ghana’s forests are under pressure, and many Ghanaians believe action is needed if the forests are to survive. Ghana’s tropical rain forest area is now just 25 per cent of its original size. Deforestation has occurred for a variety of reasons, including logging (a major drain on forest resources) and clearing the land to plant cash-crops.

Reforesting Ghana is one of G-lish’s objectives, inspired by Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement.

From a soil point-of-view, the major problems are extensive erosion causing mudslides and flooding during heavy rains.

Another issue is heat. There is a lack of shade and shelter during the hot season. Our locale is extremely hot, with temperatures reaching the low-mid 40s (107 ºF) between February and May, highs of around 37 ºC (98.6 ºF) between September and January, and (mercifully) around 33ºC (91.4 ºF) between June-August.

The Seedling Nursery

The Seedling Nursery

Adequate shade and shelter from the heat is important for health and, frankly, to be able to think straight. Since there is almost no electricity in the villages—fans and air conditioning do not exist—the only way people can get respite from the heat is to sit under a shady tree.

A large mango tree makes a good natural air-conditioner; the air seems to cool a few degrees as it sifts through the dense leaf cover. Most of G-lish’s recycled baskets are produced in the shade of mango and neem trees that were planted over 100 years ago.

Mango Tree Image

Mango trees provide excellent shade and respite from the heat

Mango trees provide excellent shade and respite from the heat

This photo is courtesy of TreeAid in the UK. It’s taken in Dongo, in Burkina Faso, but looks exactly like this part of Ghana, which borders Burkina and shares the same topography and land issues.

We hope that today’s children will enjoy the shade, beauty, environmental and health benefits of the trees G-lish is planting now in 10, 20 or even 50 year’s time.

This project is supported by Combi Coffee–the ones with the coffee van at music festivals–in Melbourne, Australia, who generously donate the tips they receive in their cafes to G-lish to support community projects. The nursery set-up, wire fence, watering can, staff time, and Green Clubs training in schools is supported by Combi Coffee in this project. Here is a pretty mouth-watering review of the Combi’s coffee and another reason why you should head to Elwood for coffee in Melbourne. You can buy G-lish recycled baskets, bags and mats at Combi Coffee’s cafe in Elwood Victoria at 84 Ormond Rd Elwood.

Portia joins the seedling raising

Portia joins the seedling raising

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