Our Artisans

 

Adam Malek
Adam crafts beautiful, one of a kind embossed
leather chess boards with individually hand-carved
wood (mahogany, tweneboa) chess pieces. The
leather is sourced from Burkina Faso from
animals that were already deceased. Adam then
soaks the leather in hot water for a couple of
days and cuts it into a shape he likes and
embosses it. He then dyes the leather using
natural dyes made from ground stones
found in Ghana. So, the leather is cruelty-free
and the dyes are all-natural. We discovered
Adam making his unique leather chess sets in
the large, poor slum of Nima, in Accra, Ghana.
His grandfather taught him how to make these
when he was a boy. Traditionally, Muslims in
Ghana are known for their excellent leather-
work. This type of work is called dakuman.
Originally from Niger, West Africa. Adam
has been living in Ghana for over 10 years now.
He is a hardworking, married man with two
wonderful kids. Adam hopes his product will
sell better in the United States and that
people will enjoy learning about him.

 


THE BAG BOYS OF GHANA
 Ayindisa Bag Artisans – three men who design and sew various bags and clutches in a small workshop in Accra, Ghana. One of their most popular products is the backpacks, which have three roomy zippered compartments and are made from recycled,  decorative African cotton. “The director of the bag boy artisans is Alanzaro, who learned the craft  from a master during an eight-year apprenticeship,” said Chris Gay, founder of Ayindisa. “Alanzaro, who is now a master seamster, trained his three colleagues.” Purchases of their bags help support  the artisans, preserve their craft and provide income for their families.

 

              

 

 

Ayindisa Basket Weaving Co-operative
The Ayindisa Basket-Weaving Co-operative
began in 2007 in the village of Yarkibisi near
Bolgatanga, in one of the poorest regions of
Ghana, West Africa. What began with just five
women now employs over 30 women and some
men. Basket weaving has been a traditional skill
of these people for many years.
They were drawn to it by necessity: sporadic
rainfall and harsh weather conditions forced the
weavers to supplement their families’ income by
weaving these beautiful, colorful baskets. Our
natural hand-woven baskets are made from
grass that is harvested in a neighboring region
where there is plenty of rain. The dyes, which
are all natural and non-toxic become a pigment
used for soaking the grass. By opening up new
markets to sell the baskets in the U.S., the
cooperative provides sustainable employment
for marginalized communities. We are also
engaged in social development projects. In
November, 2011 we completed our first bore
hole well with help from our partner, Engage
Now Africa, a non-profit humanitarian
organization. This well now provides clean and
safe drinking water for thousands of people
living in the weavers’ village of Yarkibisi.
This type of development promotes
self-government and self-esteem, which have a
trickle-down effect on the entire village.

For more information visit
www.engagenowafrica.org.

 

 


Bernice Ankrah
" I love everyone who supports me and continues to buy my products."

The daughter of a seamstress, Bernice started making handbags and apparel using traditional African techniques and materials for business purposes in order to support her family in 2002. It all started in a small room provided to her by some volunteers at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ghana (Mormons). Ayindisa discovered Bernice through these LDS volunteers in 2006 and with with help from Engage Now Africa, our non-profit humanitarian organization she purchased her own workplace and retail outlet called "Bags by Bernice and more" in Accra, Ghana's capital city. Purchases help provide fair income for her and single mothers andcreate  job security for women artisans in Africa.

 

 

     

Dagando Dramani
Dagando, meaning, "You are a man," is Co-
founder of Ayindisa and currently the director
of operations in Ghana. Mr. Dramani
maintains the professional name Peter
Dramani. He is a very talented drum-maker and
player from Bolgatanga, in the Upper-
Northeastern region of Ghana. In 1996 Dagando
migrated south to Accra, the capital city of
Ghana looking for work. Since then Dagando had
been living on the city streets, struggling to
make a living for himself and his family, until he
became friends with Ayindisa founder, Chris
Gay, in 2004. Then in 2006 Dagando
began carving his high quality hand drums and
other woodcarvings from an established and
secure workshop in the nation’s capital trade
center built with help from a small micro credit
loan he received from Ayindisa. From here
Ayindisa's business roots were planted and the
company was born importing various artisan
goods for sale in the US. Dagando continues to
make drums for us but he is also now
responsible for handling all the day-to-day
activities for us in the challenging environment
of Africa. He is married with two young children.
He is very happy and thankful to be able to make
a living and no longer live on the streets, but
rather in a home he recently built outside of Accra.

 


FORTUNATUS KF ACOLATSE
"The story of my life and the story behind my art work is that we all live for a reason."
FORTUNATUS KOFI FIAGA ACOLATSE means a lot. It’s meaning is THE LUCKY (Fortunatus) FRIDAY BORN (Kofi) PARAMOUNT CHIEF (Fiaga) from the Ewe tribe of Ghana.
"The story of my life and the story behind my art work is that we all live for a reason. Every single soul does live for a reason regardless of what ever circumstances they are in, especially ones emotionally overpowered in a negative way." - Fortunatus
Fortunatus learned to draw and paint from watching and helping his father who is a painter. He also studied visual arts in high school.  He predominantly works with mixed media and especially enjoys watercolors, pen and pencil on eggshell paper. He grew up in the Volta region of Ghana but now lives outside the capital city of Accra, Ghana with his wife and son. Fortunatus considers himself an artistic family man. His hobbies are reading, writing poems and singing.

 

Gilda Nelson
Gilda comes from a family of artisans. She is smart,
talented, and a very skilled designer that makes
beautiful tie dye and batik handbags with brass
animal pendants. Purchase helps create job security,
provides fair income and empowers women artisans
in Africa. She is happy to make a good profit by
working with Ayindisa and to do so in her homeland
of Ghana.


Ginatu Doe

Ginatu Doe has been designing clothes since 1989 and comes from a family of artisans. She is smart, talented and a very skilled designer that makes handbags and unique apparel for women, children and men. One of her signature pieces that she makes for Ayindisa is the very popular ladies jacket. Ginatu uses local and handmade fabrics then designs and tailors the jackets in a variety of colors and sizes. Purchasing her products supports her and her family as well as many other artisans that now assist her whenever an order is placed. This creates job security, provides fair income and empowers women artisans in Africa. Ginatu is so happy to make a good profit by working with Ayindisa and to do so in her homeland of Ghana.

 


 

 

Gladys Commey
All Pure Nature founder, Gladys Commey
started her small business in Ghana to
encourage the use of natural products among
its customers, to provide continuous income
for poor Shea butter farmers in rural northern
Ghana and to train young people in the
production of body care products. All Pure
Nature’s line of products is eco-friendly and
biodegradable. All products are purely natural,
made from 100 percent natural ingredients,
natural oils and specialty extracts and essential
oils. Many of the products are also enhanced
with herbs and essential oils. Gladys has
established a development project in the
northern region of Ghana in which a group
of women harvest and process the Shea nuts for
butter. Gladys also trains some of the Shea
butter producers to make the soap as well. With
a small group of employees, Commey
manufactures All Pure Nature’s personal care
products in Accra. She works with four groups
of artisans in four different villages outside of
Accra. Sale of the artisans raw Shea butter
provides a valuable source of income and is
creating jobs for the producers in the north. For
the staff in Accra, employment with All Pure
Nature also provides health benefits and
assistance with their education fees. Ayindisa is
proud to be able to support All Pure Nature and
help sell their high quality earth-friendly
products here in the USA.

 


Joana Nelson

"I am happy to be able to create these products in my homeland of Ghana for Ayindisa".

Joana comes from a family of artisans and was a former art teacher in Accra, Ghana. For twenty years she has been designing dolls, clothing, jewelry and handbags. Now she uses her talents and skills to create beautiful and unique handmade products, especially African cloth doll nativity sets for the holidays. Her nativity sets are highly sought after and are made from various recycled ingredients such as plastic, fabric, calabash, beads and more. Each individual doll is a work of art in and of itself. We are proud to support her and the other artisans that now assist her. Purchasing her products creates sustainability, job security, empowers women and provides income that is fair.

 

 

Kati Torda
A member of the Ghana Bead Society echoes
this in her praise: “Kati’s approach was not a
forceful action or encroachment. Local
designers welcomed her. She has put forth an
evolution in beadwork which is appreciated.”

When Kati Torda first came to Ghana from
Hungary in 1979 as the wife of a Ghanaian
graduate she was presented with bead necklaces
by her in-laws as their way of welcoming her.
This was to prove to be her induction into an
ongoing self-education. Soon she was amazed to
see that beads were everywhere. Kati grew to
realize that beads were a bridge between the
culture from which she came and the one in
which she was now living. She had found
something that she could contribute to without
intruding. Fashionable
jewelry designed by Kati uses local materials.
Materials used in creating the jewelry are varied.
They include locally manufactured hooks and locks
made from bronze and brass. Other materials are
used for stringing the beads, such as wire, fishing
line and thread. The beads themselves are made from
recycled old glass, recycled plastic, coconut shells,
snail shells, bone, horn and metals.

Kati is a founding and active member of the Ghana
Bead Society, trains would-be designers, runs
workshops, and gives lectures on the traditional role
of beads in Ghanaian society. In addition Kati is in
great demand for lessons in bead-stringing. Her
knowledge of all aspects of the bead in the lives of
Ghanaians gives her a respected position in the
contemporary cultural scene. Her insight enables
her produce bead accessories for all types of
occasions.

Kofi Nduro Donkor
Kofi Nduro Donkor was born on the 14th January 1964 in Tarkwa, the Western Region of Ghana. He attended Ghanatta College of Art where he obtained part of his classical training. He was however, forced to drop out in his third year due to financial constraint. In order to support himself and realize his dream of becoming an artist, Kofi sold newspapers on the busy streets of Accra. He bought much needed materials such as paints, brushes and books to train himself.
After years of sheer dedication and unfading dreams, Kofi emerged to become one of Ghana's top selling artists. His gentle and quiet disposition belles a romantic who happens to be a forceful champion of the grace and beauty of the African woman as well as the African people's love for music, art, social gatherings and tradition.
Kofi creates from sober recollection and imagination. He sees himself essentially as traditionalist who is deeply steeped in the lore of African art. His themes are picked from African forms such as symbols, womanhood and landscapes. The result of this soul searching is apparent in the vibrant movement on canvas or paper. His lust for perfection can be detected through the combination of brush strokes, knife application and finger brushes on virgin canvas as he applies the medium that took his fancy.
Kofi has had numerous art exhibitions hosted for him in his home country Ghana as well as in Europe and America. His works are widely collected. Your office or home takes on a delightfully special ambience when one of his paintings hangs on a wall.

 

 

Living Arts

“My paintings, I see them many times in my dreams
and visions before I actually paint them. So in the
morning I organize my materials and start painting.”
-K.Baka

Living arts core members consist of Livingston,
K. Baka and Irene Dakua. This small group of artisans
met  each other in art school many years ago. Since
then they have become close friends and colleagues
encouraging each other to design, create and
produce unique original African art. They create
paintings, tie-dye and batik, screen-printing, apparel
and much more.
The group uses various inexpensive but high quality
materials like denim, curtains, phone cards instead
of brushes and acrylic paints to express themselves.
Living Arts lives in Tema, Ghana and they take pride
in their work as well as their community and
especially troubled or at-risk youth. In fact the
group has been teaching art to young adults for free
and has mentored many youth in the area. This
service is having a positive impact upon many
people and the community as a whole. This energy
can also be felt in the creative products they
produce for Ayindisa.


 

Sister Donna - Heartland Survival & Rescue Center
Sister Donna is the founder of Heartland Survival & Rescue Center in rural Ethiopia. The center is an NGO, (Non governmental organization) doing rescue residence and rural life training for orphans from the area around Awassa, Ethiopia. Sister Donna is also the producer of beautiful sterling silver Coptic Cross rosaries and necklaces made from local beads and African silver.
When you purchase one of these rosaries you are helping her to train and educate the orphans in a jewelry making trade and provide the organization with money to feed, clothe, purchase medicine (malaria, AIDS), seeds for food, build new houses and shelters for the children and much more.
Ayindisa founder, Chris Gay discovered heartland while working with our partner, Engage Now Africa, a non-profit humanitarian organization on a service field expedition.

 

                         

Stanley Eilikem
“Free Style Painting is my passion. My art work gives
me the opportunity to get my thoughts across and
relate to as many people as possible.” Stanley mostly
presents his artwork in the form of cards for
messages. He creates some with unique Christian
iconography. He also paints free style using his
fingers, sponges, spatula and sharp pointed sticks.
The colors and texture depicts Stanley’s moods and
at times his serenity seems to emanate from within to the
surface as seen in his landscape cards. The zeal to
capture his thoughts is more important than
anything else. Strong colors mostly adorn his
paintings and sometimes his oil paint is created with
untamed strokes. Ayindisa is proud to help support
Stanley and provide him with the fair income he
deserves for his talent.


Trashy Bag Team
For the complete story, please visit trashybags.org
Trashy bags are made from reclaimed plastic drinking water and ice cream sachets, which are not re-processed in any way apart from washing and disinfecting. This has the benefit that very little energy is used in order to add value to material that would otherwise be dumped or burned.
In addition, by incorporating the original and complete sachets into there products, it demonstrates in a very visible way that it is possible to increase the lifespan of plastic packaging and so helps to tackle the very serious problem of environmental pollution in Africa and elsewhere.
In Accra alone, the capital city of Ghana, waste produced from plastic packaging is estimated to be more than 60 tons per day. That adds up to over 22,000 tons of plastic in one year. Whatever is not disposed of by the local authorities ends up on the streets of Accra and other urban areas, which are littered with rubbish; the most common items being plastic water and ice cream sachets that have been discarded after use. This is choking the drains causing frequent flooding and increasing the risk of disease.
By making useful and attractive bags directly from water and ice cream sachets that have been collected from the streets or kept for recycling Trashy Bags are:
Demonstrating that waste plastic can still be useful long after it has outlived its original purpose.
Using an opportunity to educate people in Africa about the dangers of land pollution and encouraging them to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.
Creating employment by paying for sachet collections, employing people to wash the sachets and then stitching them into bags.
At their Dzorwulu workshop trashy bags employ over 60 full-time workers. Helping tokeep their streets and residential areas cleaner, thereby making the environment more attractive and safer for us all.

    

  

Ayindisa Zoko Recycled
Basket Weaving Group

The Zoko Recycled group is located outside
of Bolgatanga, Ghana. The group leader is
Alunga Atanga (pictured). He is 56 and has
two wives and ten children. The group
originally consisted of him and his family
but now has grown to 25 people. Alunga is
so happy because now he and his family,
as well as the other weavers, have access
to the National health insurance program,
have money to pay the school fees, and
can now buy medicine. The weavers are
all farmers but now basket weaving has
become their livelihood. These baskets are
made from recycled materials: discarded
plastic water sachets and leftover fabric
scraps with natural grass. The
handles are made from cruelty-free
cow leather that was harvested from
animals already deceased. They
have a wonderful texture and feel
when touched, and are perfect for
everyday shopping or anything else
you can think of.

 


Ayindisa Wood Carving Group

 

These skilled Ayindisa craftsmen all have various roles and work together as one unit. The group is divided into carvers and gugaas (sanders and polishers). Each function is vital and an art form in itself. The woodcarvings, masks, musical instruments, and mancala/oware games we sell represent the various and diverse tribes of Ghana, each with their own spiritual or decorative meaning. All of Ayindisa's woodcarvings are hand-carved by artisans in Ghana from ebony, osese, tweneboa, and mahogany wood. The wood are harvested using sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. We work with Ghana's Forestry Ministry to get the proper permits and harvest wood from tree plantations where 3-4 trees are planted for each one we harvest. Ayindisa is a Green AmericaTM verified member because of our commitment to the environment and for having practices that avoid creating environmental problems. Ghanaian woodcarvings are renowned for adding home decor accents. These carvings look beautiful in any environment.

 

  Sirigu Basket Weaving Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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