I went to the Upper East Region of Ghana – a nine hour flight to Accra, ninety minute flight to Tamale, two and a half hour drive to the regional city of Bolgatanga then a further thirty to sixty minute drive to the rural communities – with CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education, in July 2017. Dorcas Apoore, the young woman who founded the Collectives, was still in University at the time and was supported by CAMFED to pursue development studies. Within the first week of her studies and motivated by her own ability to continue her studies, she decided she would set up social programmes in her local community. At the time, there were about thirty women in the Collectives and we went to visit them to see her nascent NGO. The experience was life changing – it was truly the full circle of the cycle of development. The most powerful moment came when we heard children singing in the distance. We asked if they were on their way home from school and Dorcas responded, “They are on their way to sing to you. Before their Mothers were weaving with us, they had no money to buy them school shoes. Now they are in school and they all have uniforms.” In fact, we decided on Mmaa as a name because it means Mother in the local dialect and nearly all of the weavers are themselves mothers.
The baskets were love at first sight – true works of art. We decided to bring twenty baskets to the UK that arrived in October 2017 and eventually settled on two debut designs – the City and Emelia Baskets. We launched on April 27, 2018 and the rest is history! We have been so grateful to friends including Nadia Narain, Lisa Faulkner, Melissa Hemsley, Emma Watson (through Content Beauty) and Deborah Brett that helped grow Mmaa into an international brand that always keeps the weavers at its heart.