A socially responsible label, made in Ghana

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 double 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.




1. We create fair and sustainable jobs.

Since inception, we have provided full time jobs to over 30 people who were previously unemployed or underemployed in the informal sector. On average, 70% of those that have worked for us are women - many of them are single mothers and primary caretakers. Seamstresses and tailors make up the majority of our team, but there are many extra hands that contribute to making YEVU a reality, including studio coordinators, drivers, security guards, nannies, fabric washers, ironers, screen printers, kente weavers, logistics coordinators and textile wholesalers - just to name a few. 


Many women who work for us have had experience running micro-enterprises in Ghana's informal sector, but in an unstable economy and access limited to the local market, making ends meet on a few customers is incredibly challenging, let alone supporting a whole family. That's why connecting international markets (that's you guys - our customers) to these producers is essential in ensuring these jobs remain sustainable. And when we say "sustainable", we mean stable and dependable employment that generates full time income sufficient enough to not only live on, but to also enable a change in circumstance for the individual, family and community member. 


We ensure that our team are carrying out these jobs in a safe and healthy work environment by setting up and operating our own workshops in Accra. We ask the team what they need, what could be improved on, and we make it happen. As of May 2018, YEVU staff were working out of our third workshop to date, having moved from the two previous spaces because of floods and land disputes (whoopee). The current workshop is in Amasaman in the outskirts of Accra, and has been built in an area that is easily accessible for our team - this is essential in a city the size of Accra, where travel on public transport is expensive and traffic is chronic! It is our smallest operation to date, tying us over until we find bigger facilities. During this time, some of our female seamstresses choose to work from their respective homes - a choice that affords them flexibility around balancing work with domestic and family responsibilities. Previous workshops were able to house and accommodate anyone working for YEVU that needed a place to crash, either short term or long term - unfortunately, at this stage, our current facilities do not offer this, but we're working on it!  

2. We pay above living wage.

The minimum wage in Ghana is around 8 GHC per day (about AUD$2.40). In a city like Accra, it’s impossible for anyone to meet their basic needs on this income, let alone live a life of dignity. The living wage is around 22 GHC per day (about AUD$6.60) - and even that’s a stretch.


At YEVU, our staff are paid, approximately double Ghana’s living wage which equates to about 4.5 times what they were earning before they joined YEVU. 


Since inception, with almost 10 ranges under our belt, we have contributed around 683,000 GHC (AUD $230, 000) to the Ghanaian economy through direct wages. The way in which we pay our wages is tailored to the needs and requests of our team in Ghana. Firstly, our wages are set collectively with the team (we literally just sit around and talk about it until we come to a collective decision), and reviewed annually to account for inflation. Secondly, our team prefer to be paid per piece, as it's better suited to the skill set of each maker, who have been trained in bespoke tailoring, as opposed to factory line production.At the beginning of our quarterly production periods we pay 20% of the total wage to each maker, and the remaining 80% in a bulk payment at the completion of production. Collectively, the team agreed that this was best for them, as they are able to save with bulk payments, and invest in something big, such as land for cash crops, machinery, housing, annual school fees or even IVF (yep, twins in fact!). We pay each team member directly through mobile money, which is handy in a country where less than half the population have bank accounts. Mobile money is direct, fast and cuts out any issues that come with having a money handling middle man. It’s been a game changer for African entrepreneurs and a driver of efficiency in small business, making it a more financially inclusive environment. 

3. We invest in workforce development.

Training our team in technical skills has been a key factor in creating a product that is viable in an international market. It has also been essential in forming a powerhouse team that looks out for each other, teaches each other and learns from each other. Australian designers have spent a total of 380 hours in our Accra workshops, working directly with individual seamstresses and tailors in order build their skills in pattern making, garment construction, sewing techniques, grading and finishes. Women who have been trained are now teaching the newcomers like pro’s, and a natural team of female leaders have developed within the YEVU ranks. Designs are being realised from beginning to end in Ghana, and there is an incredible sense of pride in the work that is being produced and loved by a largely Australian audience. 


Basic financial literacy training is carried out on an ongoing basis; collective savings schemes have been initiated by the team providing an ‘emergency’ kitty for whoever needs it; open and transparent discussions about money matters gives each team member agency over the financial trajectory of the business; and basic IT training has been provided to two of our female managers.

4. We see the transformative impact of economically empowered women.

Here's the tricky bit - how can we know that sustainable jobs, fair income and workforce development can contribute to a sense of empowerment? It's easy to say that we've seen this first hand; like when our Production Manger Felicia, who had never used a computer before, was inspired to enrol in ITC night classes at a local college; or when Philomena, a single mum of three, was able to send her youngest daughter to school with a uniform and textbooks for the first time; or even just by looking at the number of women who have moved from apprentices to leaders in the YEVU workforce, teaching other women what they have learnt - however, we also think it's important to try and capture whether or not some change has occurred amongst the women that work for us by using methods other than just anecdotal. 

We conduct interviews with our team in Ghana so we can get some insight into the ripple effect that investing in women can have, like how earning 4.5 times what they were earning before joining YEVU has affected the health and education of their families. The majority of women tell us that they are spending this income on sending their daughters to school; that they are investing in buying machinery that will contribute to their own businesses and long term earning capacity; they are building bigger, better and more secure houses; that they have been able to pay for the hospital fees of relatives during health emergencies; and they are supporting the general and ongoing health and education needs of extended family and friends, 170 dependants last time we checked.

We also survey our team in Ghana, which gives us some nice shiny quantitative data. We've used the Oxfam framework for measuring women's economic empowerment as our guide, so we can frame our questions and gather data on characteristics of empowerment that relate to the individual and her relationships. Questions address feelings of self confidence, individual capability, attitudes towards women's economic role, control over household assets and decision making. In our last impact survey, conducted in June 2018, an external evaluator interviewed 16 current and past employees in Ghana, 75% of which were women. In summary, our findings showed that:

Feelings about self: 

  • 88% of female respondents strongly feel that they are a person of worth, equal to others. Feelings of worth are derived from access to income, total independence and self-sufficiency as a single mum.

  • 94% of  female respondents strongly feel like they have the skills and capabilities to achieve their dreams, citing the technical skills they’ve gained through YEVU as well as customer relations and financial management skills as reasons why.

  • All the women feel that their sewing skills are better than other makers, as they've learnt how to use industrial machinery, how to pattern make, and they cite that YEVU’s stringent quality control mechanisms mean that their work will be scrutinised and must be of a very high standard. Others in the profession in Ghana don’t have these expectations placed on them.

  • 100% of female respondents state that they are, to a large extent, able to produce consistently across large quantities of style and size, a skill that was many did not posses when we they commenced work with YEVU, citing production sizes of up to 350 units per size/style. 92% are confident in cutting cloth in large quantities.

  • Everyone we interviewed felt like they had learnt new skills in the last 12 months, stating that a greater volume of work has increased their skills through on the job practice. Pattern making was specifically mentioned by 26% of respondents.

  • Out of those interviewed 63% have their own bank accounts, and 100% of current female YEVU employees have bank accounts. Of those that have bank accounts, 60% have been able to save the money they had planned on saving. Family and other emergencies have been a factor for those that were unable to save.

  • 94% of female respondents strongly feel like they have the skills and capabilities to achieve their dreams, citing the technical skills they’ve gained through YEVU as well as customer relations and financial management skills as reasons why.

  • Around 88% of female respondents believe that women and men can both be leaders. One of YEVU’s lead female makers stated that before working for YEVU, she believed that men and woman had separate roles, but since being employed at YEVU, she feels empowered to stand up. Another female employee believes that women talk too much and men talk less and do more.

  • 100% of respondents agree that a women are equally as capable of managing finances as their male counterparts. One of the single mothers believes that women are very capable, without being able to rely on anyone else, but an education helps.

  • Every single respondents agree that men and women deserve equal pay for equal work. One female participant thinks that women should in fact be paid more than men! Why not, we say. 

Feelings about relationships: 

  • Around 73% of the female respondents stated that they have enough freedom within their household to travel to visit relatives and friends outside their community without the input of their husbands. 

  • All female participants have the ability to choose how many children they’d like to have, be it independently or with the joint input of their husband.

  • Over 80% of female respondents make joint decisions about how to spend the money they make, with only 2 out of 12 respondents stating that they have full independence over spending their own income.

  • 87% of female participants are members of religious groups, with the majority feeling like they have influence to make decisions within this group to a medium and large extent.

  • 88% of our team believed that they are on the right path to achieve their life dreams:

  • 38% (6/16) of respondents dream of owning their own workshop, becoming a master of their craft and employing and training others in order to expand the business.

  • 19% (3/16) of respondents dream of building their own house with the money they earn at YEVU.

  • 19% (3/16) of respondents dream of being able to support their entire family and provide all their needs through the income from YEVU.

  • 7% (1/16) dream of furthering their education.