Asige Basketry was formed on the 27th of July, 2014 in Bolgatanga by Dorcas Asige Apoore. The type of craft they practice is basketry and bead making. Dorcas is the founder of Asige Basketry. ‘Asige’ is a part of Dorcas’s name, and it means come down with blessings in the Frafra language of Ghana. Dorcas has redefined Asige as the ‘Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls Education’. Dorcas started the foundation in 2013 as a girl’s club when she completed her senior high school. In her district, Bongo, the female graduation rate was very low because they drop out of school due to teenage pregnancy. Dorcas continued her education at the University, and is currently in her third year.
“As a lady coming from the district, I had completed Senior High School and gained admission into the University of Development Studies (UDS) West Africa campus in 2014. I researched in Atampuurum in the Bolga municipality on the problems, needs and cultural background of the community. After the research, I realized the women were really lacking for opportunity, but had talent in basketry and other handiworks. I brought the women together, formed the group and trained them on different designs where they can use recycled rubber to weave as well. This was to help the women to care for themselves, their children and also support the family and be able to pay the school fees of their children.
“The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of lives through sustainable skill development and financial diversification. Technically we aim to eliminate poverty (Sustainable Development Goal) by weaving together to harness the power of synergy and best business practices. Our team is bonded together by trust and collective effort. It took us 2 years to assemble the team. Not all of the women can read and write. First, we had to educate them to understand the need to eliminate poverty. We started with 20 women in February, and by 30th April we had 89 women, and the numbers keep going up because of the trust.
“There are several challenges, including marketing our finished products, raising funds to purchase materials for large scale production, and basic logistics for production as our numbers increase. Our materials include mats, bowls, tape measures, blades and cooking pots. Though we have land to build a structure, we don’t have the capacity to put up a building yet, and we need a shelter that will protect the items from the rains.
“Our craft is associated with our country’s traditions. Our baskets are termed Bolga baskets. We have brought innovation and modernization in the global world to the local weaving tradition. The materials we use are straw (grass grown in forest vegetation of Ghana and along the river banks in the North), dye, recycled rubber bags, leather designs, cloth designs (kente and batakari) and beads. All the items are bought at Bolgatanga Central market.
“The organization has improved the lives of people in the community in many ways, including:
- We built a partnership with Access bank to assist the women in obtaining bank accounts
- Working with Novica, which will soon provide a stable market
- Women are being trained with new designs
- We have a family life education program to help the women
- We entered into an agreement with CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) to help women pass their exams
“The organization has impacted my life in a way. It gives me inner satisfaction knowing that these women will not sleep on an empty stomach. At least I have a saved a life. I have received awards for the work of the organization. It has not been all about work; we have entertainment sessions where we sing and dance to rejuvenate ourselves. We have our own YouTube channel for the Asige Foundation, and we also do career guidance by going from school to school in Bolga to talk to the young women at the SHS level.
“We work as a team. We buy the materials in bulk and share among each member then we weave based on each member’s specialization and training. Upon completion, we sell the baskets in market and whatever amount is obtained is used to repurchase materials and shared among each member based on output.”