As in many parts of Africa, Ghana has a scarcity of food, youth unemployment is high, education for the poor in particular is virtually inaccessible and the possibility for obtaining financing for a start-up business venture hardly exists.
Holland Bolga Support and Life Style Artisans are working together in Northern Ghana to help alleviate many of these problems.
Bolgatanga: how is it going and what are we doing about it
Bolgatanga is the capital of the Upper East Region in northern Ghana. The area borders Togo and Burkina Faso and, like the other Sahel countries, consists of a largely savanna landscape. It is one of the poorest parts of Ghana.
Industry virtually does not exist in Bolgatanga. Instead there are many small craft businesses, including carpentry shops. These companies invite young people who are searching for work on an ad hoc basis in exchange for food or a little money, but often for nothing. The technical knowledge that these young people gain in this way is therefore quite limited and without continuity.
In the better organized local companies – especially in the clothing workshops, the weaving mills, the jewelry makers and the hairdressers – a kind of apprenticeship system is used in which a young person pays a fee to become a working apprentice for three years, with a meal a day as wages for his work. In this situation, the students gain at least some subject knowledge of the trade by their contribution. After three years, the student is theoretically able to start a business on their own.
However, there is often little time and space within the companies for the transfer of practical knowledge in business operations and other related subjects.
Lifestyle Artisans (Lifestyle) is the local collective of these craftsmen and businesses in woodworking, cabinet making, carpentry, sewing and dressmaking, jewelry makers, goldsmiths and bead designers, basket and shoemakers, weaving, upholstery and hairdressers.
The collective was created to support each other in business operations as well as the approach and transfer of traditional knowledge and their implementation.
In addition to this subject-specific transfer per craft, the knowledge and practice of business management, accounting and sales is part of the educational program for all participants.
Holland Bolga Support (HBS) has taken upon itself the task of raising funds for the activities that have been agreed upon in cooperation with Lifestyle.
In addition, Holland Bolga Support provides practical knowledge in the field of business operations. In addition, upon request, Holland Bolga Support also organizes further professional training in the development of technical expertise.
Lifestyle Artisans and Holland Bolga Support have joined together in projects dealing with the problems and challenges of the education of individuals and the financing for the companies affiliated with Lifestyle Artisans:
The primary focus of educational programs is the successful completion of the Ghanaian state exam. Education also consists of providing knowledge, subjects, and skills necessary for business operations. In addition, the school teaches subject-specific on-the-job practical knowledge in a number of certain crafts.
Equality between men and women
Lifestyle Artisans and Holland Bolga Support actively foster changes in the local traditional culture in order to bring about more equality between men and women, in part by actively encouraging women to train in traditionally male professions, and vice versa.
Ecology and Climate
Lifestyle Artisans and Holland Bolga Support have begun research to investigatethe initiation of specific projects that contribute to improving local ecology and climate.
Financing and lending
Many ex-students and entrepreneurs need financing if they want to start a business. Lifestyle Artisans provides pre-financing, at present only available on the market at usurious rates.
Lifestyle Artisans supervises the process of pre-financing and lending, loans and arranges installment plans.
These loans are also used to set up new activities for existing companies.
The surplus acquired through the financing is used to support the spin-off projects of Lifestyle Artisans.