Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

YEVU: Economic empowerment of Ghana's informal sector micro producers

Sydney, AustraliaAccra, Ghana
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

YEVU believes that business can drive positive social change, empowering individuals and boosting local economies. YEVU is a social enterprise that aims to support micro enterprise and artisanal manufacturing in Ghana in order to increase the income of economically vulnerable women.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if female-owned micro enterprises operating in Ghana's informal sector had the means and capacity to be able to employ, train and economically empower other women in need of income generating activities benefiting their families and communities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

YEVU believes the most effective way for women to improve their lives is to gain economic independence. In Ghana, the majority of informal sector micro enterprises are women owned, yet they have less access to formal financial institutions, saving mechanisms and capital than their male counterparts. They are economically vulnerable which adversely affects their ability to adequately support themselves, their families and immediate communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

YEVU aims to support these women led enterprises in Ghana's informal sector through creating sustainable income generating activities, training in technical skill and contemporary design and through connecting them to an international value chain. YEVU proposes to create sustainability and increase impact of its operations in Ghana. This would entail greater economic empowerment and financial resilience of female enterprise owners and micro producers through providing access to information and training current employed women in savings, loan schemes and better financial management. Furthermore, YEVU proposes to increase the employability of marginalised women through technical training on production, pattern making and sewing techniques.


Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

YEVU has increased the income of 30 micro producers by 250% per season, by training them in design, connecting them with markets and providing them with productive resources. 70% are women, all of whom have reinvested the income they generate with YEVU to the betterment of themselves and immediate community. Micro enterprise owner Christine purchased a computer that is available to the children in her community and used for educational purposes. Felicia is furthering her education and will start he own design company that employs other women. Other women have opened their own shops, sent their kids to school and invested in cash crops. Economic empowerment has given these women the courage to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavours.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

YEVU has centralised manufacturing in Accra, partnered with six informal sector micro-enterprises, and trained and economically empowered 30 micro-producers that specialise in highly skilled tailoring and custom made clothing manufacturing. During full time production periods, each micro producer earns, on average, 15 times the statutory minimum wage and 6 times the average living wage in Ghana for their sector. YEVU pays seamstresses and tailors per unit, they set their own price encouraging ownership and empowering. All revenue generated through sales is reinvested into the Ghanaian economy through predominantly wages, directly improving the lives of these individuals and the health and education of their families. YEVU aims to increase economic independence of female stakeholders through providing access to savings schemes and mentorship in order to make better financial decisions.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Beyond economic returns, increased access to capital through savings, improved understanding of financial management and continued technical skill development equips and empowers the micro producers to pursue their own long term income generating activities and ambitions. Female micro producers are financially independent, and equipped with the new skill set and confidence to pursue decisions that affect their own lives. YEVU has found from conducting M&E that women go on to start their own businesses, employ other women, upgrade their income generating capacity and pursue tertiary education.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

To continue to improve on the quality of the product and design through collaboration with designers, and to appeal to a growing consumer base through pursuing wholesale opportunities and partnerships, the Smithsonian Museum is one example. Through this increased revenue YEVU plans to sustain and grow its income generating activities in Ghana through increasing the productive capacity of the YEVU workshop & expand it's network of micro producers.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

YEVU differentiates itself from similar approaches (Osei-Duro, Della) through partnering with micro enterprise owners operating in Ghana's informal sector who use their network to employ micro producers looking for work. They are invited to participate in YEVUs 'hub', set their own wages and work schedule giving full ownership over production. YEVU has invested resources into centralising all production in its Accra workshop ensuring fair working conditions. YEVU sells directly to the customer through pop up stores around the world, including Sydney and London minimising overhead costs.

Founding Story

YEVU was conceived in Ghana in 2013, inspired by founder Anna Robertson’s desire to support small enterprise in the West African country, and celebrate the vibrancy and cultural significance of Ghanaian wax print and textiles. Inspired by her background in international development and political economy, and disheartened by the complexities of foreign aid, Anna saw potential in partnering with informal sector micro enterprise and micro producers in order to create jobs, generate income and connect markets; “I saw a lot of people with the skill set and burning desire to work, but not enough access to income generating activities to sustain their businesses and support their families”.


Anna Robertson is founder with a background in Monitoring and Evaluating good governance projects in Ghana. She runs the business full time, all operations, and spends her time between Australia and Ghana. Anna Westcott is an Australian based designer who works in a freelance capacity on pre production design work, as well as training and upscaling the micro producers in Ghana. YEVU is a registered business in Ghana with two Executive members, including Anna Robertson and Gifty Darko. Gifty Darko is a Ghanaian micro enterprise owner who is also YEVU's production manager. YEVU employs approximately 30 Ghanaian tailors, seamstresses and artisanal manufacturers who are employed on a contract basis during production periods (approximately 5 months of the year). YEVU collaborates and hires the services of many creative professionals and marketing experts, with a project based PR team at the Australian end of the business. Interns and volunteers give their time and expertise to develop the business model, product and distribution in both Ghana and Australia.
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]

Advocate/Organizer, Designer, Factory Owner.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Consumers, Designers, Factory Owners, Researchers, Retailers - Specialty Store, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Trading Companies, Women.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Finance, Conscious Consumerism, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Gender Equality, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Capacity Building, 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, 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, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders.

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?

● 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?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

YEVU mentors and trains youth through internships and seminars on encouraging entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth in Ghana

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Looking forward we plan to pursue many collaborative opportunities that we have not had the capacity to pursue in the past