Weaving a Way Out of Poverty? Basket Weaving as Poverty Reduction Strategy Among Rural Female Poor in Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana

Ida Ljunggren

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The thesis investigates the ability of the basket industry in Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana, to contribute to poverty reduction and development among the weavers, who are mainly rural female poor. The theoretical approach of the thesis is multidimensional and builds on Global Value Chains theory, the Business System approach and the Capability approach. The analysis moves from a perspective on the global markets, to the local business system and its institutional features in Bolgatanga, to the socio-economic situation of the basket weavers. First, the analysis deals with the overall competitiveness of the industry, as competitiveness is a main premise for the existence of the industry. From a global value chain approach the governance structures within the industry are examined, and three types of value chains are identified. The ability to upgrade in each chain is analysed, as upgrading both influence the competitiveness of the industry but equally has much relevance for the empowerment and capacity building of the individual weaver. The second part of the analysis also deals with the competitiveness of the industry, but focus on the local business system, that is the interrelations between institutions and businesses in the area. In this part the role of the active stakeholders, such as NGOs, exporters and governmental organisations is discussed. On the basis of the two complementary approaches, the competitiveness of the industry is assessed. The last part of the analysis looks at the extent to which the women profit from the industry, not only in relation to income, but also in relation to empowerment, ability to upgrade and to build capacity. The overall production system is strongly influenced by its embeddedness in a very traditional society, which can be seen as a general hindrance for the competitiveness of the industry. However, the global markets are also very influential as the demand on these markets is what defines the parameters for production and the governance structures of the value chains. The parameters for production in each of these chains are respectively price, quality and credence goods. The first type of chain is the most traditional production and sale system within which most producers are allocated. This chain is highly uncompetitive, and does hardly bring any difference in the lives of the weavers. The second and third types of chains are more competitive, as they build on authenticity and fair trade as competitive strategies that are very hard for competitors to reproduce. These latter two are also more conducive to poverty reduction and development than the first chain mentioned, as they through their linkages to global buyers can transfer knowledge and capabilities. However, because of the high level of extreme poverty in the region, only the chains that actively focus on empowering the women and their position in society are contributing to poverty reduction and development among the rural female poor.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato25 maj 2007
VejledereDaniel Fleming


  • Poverty, basket weaving, Fair Trade, Northern Ghana, Global Value Chains, Business System, Capability Approach