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Aid or trade? The debate continues. But after browsing these artisanal products from across Africa, you’ll be all for trade (at least for a moment). If you want to spend your gift-giving budget in a way that empowers women economically, here are three ways to get started.
One. Bedazzle yourself with handcrafted jewelry from Soko.
Soko is the gateway drug for handcrafted, African goods. Designed in San Francisco and crafted in Kenya, their enviable jewelry is made from materials such as recycled brass and reclaimed animal horn with an American aesthetic in mind. Their true innovation is the way that they empower Kenyan artisans through their supply chain. According to Ella Peinovich, one of Soko’s founders, they “turned the mobile phone into a tool that offers artisans access to international markets – and new livelihood opportunities.”
Two. Run your last-minute errands in comfort and style in a pair of Sole Rebels.
Sole Rebels has both humble beginnings and global ambitions. Founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu started making shoes in her grandmother’s home in Ethiopia. Today, she runs Africa’s fast-growing footwear brand and in doing so, according to their website, “shifted the discourse on African development from one of poverty alleviation orchestrated by external actors, to one about prosperity creation driven by local Africans maximizing their talents and resources.” In addition to creating employment for hundreds of workers, her shoes are environmentally sustainable, using organic cotton, free-range leather, and recycled tires as the primary materials.
Three. Immerse yourself in the world of creatives at The Shop Accra by Eyetsa.
If you need a wider selection, just head over to The Shop Accra, one of their sister shops in Lagos or Abidjan, or for those not lucky enough to be spending to December in the tropics, their Instagram @theshopaccra. According to the founder, Edie Quaye, The Shop, as it is affectionately known in Ghana, is a creative hub formed “to bridge the gap between creativists and their consumers.” You can think of it as a window into the diverse world of modern African artists and artisans. They sell everything from local food products, to retro dolls and carved furniture. They are particularly known for their exclusive mudcloth and indigo dyed collections which include unisex clothing as well as home goods made from the indigenous fabric.
According to the Aspen Institute, artisanal products are a $32B global market. The sector is also the second largest employer, after agriculture, in emerging markets. By supporting Soko, Sole Rebel, The Shop Accra, or any of their peers, you can express yourself through unique, stylish, and handcrafted goods while creating jobs and raising the profiles of women and their cultural heritage. This holiday, pick up your last-minute gifts and spread the joy globally.
You can make purchases from Soko at their website, www.shopsoko.com, their flagship store in San Francisco, or from one of their 400+ retail partners worldwide. Sole Rebels are available from their website, www.solerebels.com or through one of their dozens of stores worldwide. You can buy from The Shop from their locations in Accra, Abidjan, and Lagos, or through their Instagram account @theshopaccra.
December 19, 2018 at 06:50AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs