A socially responsible label, made in Ghana

We are a business with purpose. We are proudly Ghanaian made. And we believe in the transformative impact of economically empowered women.

We also make kick-ass clothing in mind blowing prints.


Since inception, YEVU’s aim has been to give women in Ghana’s informal sector jobs, a better and more sustainable income, and ultimately, access to improved livelihoods for her family and immediate community. 


 Over the years, our journey has been marked by many challenges, but our stamina and resilience stems from our powerhouse team of women in Ghana. These women have always been at the core of what we do and why we do it. Our relationships have been built over years of collective and transparent decision making, shared learning, and mutual goal setting. 


 So we have decided to tell this story [the no bullshit version] as it has defined how and why we operate today. We want you to know exactly what you’re buying, how it came to be, and why it came to be.


Our Why.

Every idea starts with a problem. So here is the problem.


Women are the backbone of a community, an economy, a country. They are entrepreneurs, mothers, sisters, teachers and community leaders. In Ghana, it’s women that dominate the informal sector, owning and operating the vast majority of little business that scatter the roads, markets and remote communities. They sell you rice, they clean your houses, they make your lunch, they repair your clothes, they cut your hair, they do the heavy lifting, literally. Yet, working in this informal sector is a vulnerable place to be - it’s characterised by underemployment, unsafe working conditions, precarious work relationships, low wages and no safety net. The majority of those working in the informal sector are living with high income insecurity, and the majority of those people are women. A whopping 80% of all economic activity in Ghana is in the informal sector, and women make up 70% of that sector. You do the math. 


To make the situation that much more difficult, women in Ghana have less access to capital and savings mechanisms, limiting their ability to invest in their businesses and expand their earning capabilities. So they own and operate all these businesses, but can’t grow them. In a nutshell, when it comes to jobs, income, opportunity and choice, women in Ghana are left behind. Which is kind of ironic, considering that women are the ones most likely to spend whatever income they do make on the health and education of their families and immediate communities. They are the ones that will likely spend their first bulk payment on sending their daughter to school.

What we do. 


Transparency is the best policy, so that’s what we’ll be serving up. YEVU is a tiny tiny drop in a gigantic ocean - we are not alleviating systemic social problems, we’ll leave that to the big guys. 


What we are is a business with purpose. Our purpose is to change the circumstances for a group of women in Ghana that were once amongst the most vulnerable, through creating jobs with dignity, income that is sustainable and fair, and skills that can contribute to long term financial independence. Big picture, we want to create opportunities for the daughters of these women, because, as research has shown us, if you educate a girl then you educate a whole nation. 


We have formed relationships; created trust; built and facilitated physical workshops from the ground up in Accra; and developed and nurtured skills. Now, 4 years on we have consolidated an ironclad team of formalised female workers under the YEVU name. And they are running the show. They are financially independent, empowered, confident, and making choices for themselves and their families. And they are also making damn cool clothes that make people feel genuinely happy. 


But are we actually making a difference? Let's take a look at some data.

Some nerd info: This data has been collected through a few different methods. We've used existing research on living wages, our own business data on wages and production, and surveys and interviews with past and current employees in Ghana. The interviews and survey aim to capture data on whether or not there has been some personal and relational change for the women that we work with in Ghana, which can hopefully tell us how empowered each woman feels as a result of sustainable and fair employment. We used Oxfam's Framework for Measuring Women's Empowerment to guide our impact evaluation. Nerd out friends.

1. We create fair and sustainable jobs.


 

# 30 formerly unemployed and financially vulnerable people have been employed in full time jobs since inception.


# 70% are women. One third are single mums. 


# 12,598 garments manufactured in YEVU workshops since inception.


# 30,000 yards of wax print fabric bought from female led micro-enterprises.


2. We pay above living wage.

2. We pay above living wage.


# YEVU workers earn 4-5 times what they were making before joining YEVU. 


# YEVU workers earn 2-3 times Ghana's living wage.  


# 100% paid through direct mobile money transfers to each individual.


# 100% of current female YEVU employees have bank accounts. 


# For over 85% of our team, YEVU income pays for school fees, food for their families, rent, family healthcare and emergencies.




3. We invest in workforce development. 


# 380 hours of training provided to the team in technical skills. 


# 2 managers trained in computer skills.


# 30 team members up skilled in financial literacy.


# 58% of our team can now make patterns with no assistance and 92% are totally confident cutting large quantities of cloth. 


# 100% of our team strongly feel that their technical skills are better than their counterparts because of YEVU. 




4. Women's economic empowerment.

# 170 family and community members dependent on the income generated through YEVU.  


# Every child of every YEVU team member attends school. 


# 88% of our team feel that they are a person of worth and equal to others. For the women, this is derived from access to income, total independence and self-sufficiency as a single mum. 


# 94% of our team feel like new skills and capabilities learnt through YEVU will help them to achieve their dreams.





How we do it. 

1. Design

Initially, our design work was carried out in Australia by our network of designers and pattern makers. Now, we can proudly say that the majority of this design process is carried out with our team in our Accra workshop thanks to the ongoing training and capacity building between our Australian designers and our makers on the ground in Ghana. Our philosophy around design is to keep it simple and let the print do the talking, so we often revisit YEVU fave classic cuts, introducing only a handful of new considered designs in each range. 

2. Print sourcing

We source all our prints from the wholesale market places of Accra and Kumasi (Ghana’s biggest cities), and Lome in Togo. The markets offer the absolute best choice of locally designed prints, and although it's a logistical nightmare, there’s nothing like finding the ultimate print hiding under tons of fabric in the back alleyways of the marketplace. Another bonus is that all of these tiny micro-enterprises are female owned (we are yet to meet one owned by a man!) yay! The tricky part of the process is finding each killer print in the quantities needed meet our production targets for each range – we need somewhere between 300 and 400 yards in each print. These prints are scattered over miles of marketplaces, so we literally send a satellite team of people out to search high and low for a specific print, which can take weeks. We REALLY work for these amazing locally designed prints. Thanks to the local textile houses, ATL, GTP, GTMC, Printex and Woodin for making these fabrics for us to buy. 

3. Production

After sourcing prints (generally carried out by Anna), our driver Kennedy fights chronic traffic to transport these massive quantities to our Accra workshop. Every yard of fabric is tested for colour bleed, pre-washed by hand and hung to dry in the hot Ghanaian sun. Production Manager Felicia distributes all the fabric to our team of makers, and every single YEVU item is meticulously made in our Accra workshop. We believe in in-house production and outsource almost none of what we sell. Everything from pattern making and training to quality control is carried out by our team on site in our central hub/studio that we have built in Amasoman. After several months of production on each range, a thorough quality control is carried out by Felicia and team, and thousands of units are ironed, labelled and boxed up, ready to be sent to our studio in Sydney, Australia.

4. On your back

We aim to release four ranges per year, which have absolutely no correlation with fashion seasonality. Our garms are for anywhere, anytime fun. We are strictly retail - we have never wholesaled and don't plan to start, because we love selling directly to you through this fancy website and through our bi-annual pop up extravaganzas! If you’re lucky enough to be in the right city at the right time, then you may get to experience one of our pop up stores in the warmer months. Thus far we've got a whopping 10 pop ups under our belt, having appeared in Melbourne, London and Sydney. 

The team. 

“I’ve gained a lot of sewing experience especially using the cutting machine, making patterns and working speedily and efficiently since I joined YEVU. I feel financially secured because of the bulk salary payment for a specified number of cloths to sew. I’m able to support my husband financially to take care of our two kids. Because of the free and flexible work environment and financial security, YEVU is a place I would like to work my whole life.”
“I’ve gained a lot of sewing experience especially using the cutting machine, making patterns and working speedily and efficiently since I joined YEVU. I feel financially secured because of the bulk salary payment for a specified number of cloths to sew. I’m able to support my husband financially to take care of our two kids. Because of the free and flexible work environment and financial security, YEVU is a place I would like to work my whole life.”
Felicia Adwubi
Head of Production 

“I’ve gained a lot of financial freedom since I joined YEVU. As a single mother with three children, I am happy that my children are comfortable and that I am able to pay their school fees.”
“I’ve gained a lot of financial freedom since I joined YEVU. As a single mother with three children, I am happy that my children are comfortable and that I am able to pay their school fees.”
Philomena Akaso
Lead Seamstress

“After I finished my sewing apprenticeship, I couldn’t afford to get my own workshop. A lot of change has come to my life when I started working with YEVU.  Having to learn new skills to produce different fabric works such as jackets and bags, I have come to appreciate YEVU a lot and plan to work there for a long time because the salary is good enough to enable me support my husband to take care of our children.”
“After I finished my sewing apprenticeship, I couldn’t afford to get my own workshop. A lot of change has come to my life when I started working with YEVU. Having to learn new skills to produce different fabric works such as jackets and bags, I have come to appreciate YEVU a lot and plan to work there for a long time because the salary is good enough to enable me support my husband to take care of our children.”
Vivien Nyavi
Lead Seamstress

“I’ve been with YEVU for four years. As a single mother, YEVU is all I have to manage my life and my daughter. The bulk production makes my income more lucrative than owning my own shop where customers come once in a while. I have made up my mind to work with YEVU for life and hope that it grows.”
“I’ve been with YEVU for four years. As a single mother, YEVU is all I have to manage my life and my daughter. The bulk production makes my income more lucrative than owning my own shop where customers come once in a while. I have made up my mind to work with YEVU for life and hope that it grows.”
Lydia Akplehy
Lead Seamstress

“I have worked with YEVU since its beginning. Aside from my sewing and clothes making skills that have improved, I am able to get enough money to pay my child’s school fees. YEVU is a place I want to work for life.”
“I have worked with YEVU since its beginning. Aside from my sewing and clothes making skills that have improved, I am able to get enough money to pay my child’s school fees. YEVU is a place I want to work for life.”
Josephine Nartey
Lead Seamstress

Stephen Z. Mensa is from Accra, Ghana. He has been working as a tailor for fifteen years and is supporting two children. He hopes to gain more training in tailoring and one day own his own boutique. He makes the Mens Jackets for YEVU.
Stephen Z. Mensa is from Accra, Ghana. He has been working as a tailor for fifteen years and is supporting two children. He hopes to gain more training in tailoring and one day own his own boutique. He makes the Mens Jackets for YEVU.
Stephen Zikpikpor
Lead Tailor

Obeng Skido
Logistics Coordinator 

Mary 
Production Assistant

Kennedy Costa 
Driver and carrier of heavy things 

Joseph Quaye Amoo
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer 

Freya Orford - Dunne
Design Consultant & Capacity Builder 

Anna Westcott
Design Consultant & Capacity Builder

Lisa Liu
Sydney Studio Coordinator

Tessa Curran 
Content Producer

Anna Robertson

Founder

Sydney born Anna Robertson, founder of social enterprise YEVU, accidentally fell into the business of fashion. After spending a modest number of years involved in the international development sector, Anna took an Australian Youth Ambassadorship in Ghana in 2012, and that was the beginning of the YEVU story. After spending a year working in Ghana’s good governance sector, and learning the lay of the land in her new home of Accra, Anna realised the potential in female led micro enterprise and their desire for more work and more growth. 


In Ghana, female led micro enterprises make up the majority of informal sector economic activity all while creating jobs and income for those living on very little, and dealing with a seriously challenging environment. The potential to support female-led small enterprise in the West African country, and celebrate the vibrancy and cultural significance of Ghanaian wax print and textiles was the catalyst for creating YEVU.