Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.
ABAN is addressing two social challenges with one solution! At ABAN, employees earn a decent income creating beautiful bags out of recycled plastic. Their income enables them to provide for their families and communities, while simultaneously ridding Ghana's streets of plastic waste.
WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"
What if there was a chance for ABAN to create an environment of well-resourced workshops that could provide employment to dozens of rural professionals, using discarded plastic bags to solve the problems of unemployment and environmental degradation.
Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
ABAN aims to simultaneously address the problems of high unemployment in rural communities and environmental degradation caused by littered plastic waste.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
ABAN sews recycled plastic bags collected from the streets of Ghana into purses and other accessories. This provides jobs for rural artisans and cleans up communities in Ghana. It also acts as a way to spread environmental awareness in small communities.
Every artisan is paid a fair, living wage for their work. This allows them to provide for themselves and their families.
Every product utilizes recycled plastic bags which reduces the amount of plastic waste littered on the ground. Many of the products also feature glass keychains made from recycled bottles. Finally, every product is sewn from a hand-dyed batik fabric! This carries on the batik-dyeing tradition that has been passed down generationally.
UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Carolina Challenge; Global Giving’s Girl Effect Challenge; Fair Trade Federation; Ford Fellowship; Alumna of the Year from UNC-CH and Concordia University (two founders)
Impact: How does it Work
Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
Before getting hired by ABAN, Kofi was a professional tailor who was making less than the Ghanaian minimum wage. He could not provide for his family because there was no paid work to be had in his small community. Working for ABAN has given Kofi the chance to earn the money and stability he needs as a father and a professional tailor.
Rose was pregnant and living on the streets of Ghana before being hired by ABAN. She is now one of the best seamstresses on the team and she is able to pay for her son Theo’s education.
The products sewn by Kofi, Rose and the other 13 ABAN artisans are made from the recycled plastic bags collected from the streets of Ghana. Since 2012, their efforts have recycled over 500,000 plastic bags!
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
1. ABAN has recycled over half a million plastic bags off the streets of Ghana since our first sewing center opened in 2012.
2. ABAN spreads environmental awareness among its surrounding communities by encouraging community members to collect the bags instead of discarding them on the ground.
3. ABAN employs 15 rural artisans on a salary well above Ghana's minimum wage and in excess of the average wage in the surrounding communities.
With an increased capacity, ABAN will expand its current sewing center in Aburi and open additional sewing centers in other communities in order to provide sustainable income for artisans in additional areas. It will be able to expand its environmental education efforts, informing more Ghanaians about the importance of recycling for the protection of their health and environment.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
1. Setting up well equipped and resourced ABAN workshops all over Ghana, which translates into training and employing more people and having fewer plastic bags on the streets.
2. Expanding ABAN's product market, both domestically in Ghana and in additional countries around the world.
Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
1. Increase sales avenues for both bulk and retail orders, specifically in Ghana.
2. Create variety in our product line to meet the Ghanaian market’s needs.
Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
Trashy Bags has a similar model of recycling plastic waste but a different impact. ABAN products feature a traditionally dyed batik fabric, whereas Trashy Bags only uses the recycled plastic. They also are starting to produce more products made from recycled billboards than the discarded plastic bags.
Furthermore, ABAN targets artisans in rural communities where poverty is higher and resources are limited. This addresses a need that Trashy Bags does not.
The idea for ABAN began when its three founders met at the University of Ghana in 2008. All three were disturbed by the millions of plastic water bags littering the streets of Accra, as well as the number of women and children who slept on the same streets each night. The founders quickly joined their passions and ideas to create a solution to two salient problems in the streets of West Africa: they would empower neglected and vulnerable homeless young women by creating products made out of recycled plastic littering the streets of Accra. From that day forward, they decided to commit their lives to placing A Ban Against Neglect—the neglect of both these young women and their environment.
Product Design staff
8 Board Members
2 Full-time Country Directors
1 Full-time Sales and Marketing Manager
1 Part-time Brand Manager
1 Full-time Program Manager
1 Full-time Operations Manager
15 Full-time Sewing Staff
Plan to add:
Glass keychain creation staff
Increased Ghana sales staff
Plastic collection and sanitization staff
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]
Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]
Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]
Children, Consumers, Corporations, Retailers - Specialty Store, Supplier - contractor, Women, Youth.
Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.
Capacity Building, Standards, Training.
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?
A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.
Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?
Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources.
Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?
If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?
Child care, Community development, Economic development, Environment, Fair Trade, Green consumerism, Human Rights & Equality, Human Rights, Poverty alleviation, Rural development, Recycling.
● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
We will train staff to make these fabrics in-house. Increased demand for batik provides options to supply to apparel industry.
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?
We are educating community members about the importance of environmental protection and recycling.
● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?
Our key partners are members of rural communities where we operate and local artisans like batik artists and glass bead artists.