The Blessing Basket is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to reduce poverty in developing countries by paying Prosperity Wages® for artisan projects. Prosperity Wages® are significantly higher than fair trade wages and in some regions six times fair trade. It enables the artisan to quickly earn significant capital which they then use to start their own entrepreneurial activities resulting in sustainable streams of income independent of The Blessing Basket Project®. Through its unique approach, the organization has proven that once an artisan creates and sustains 3 independent streams of income, they no longer need help from The Project and will have permanently lifted themselves out of poverty.
Founder of The Blessing Basket Project, Theresa Carrington started the project with her own meager funds of $8000 and $40,000 in credit card loans. She sold everything she had of value – including her home to make the organization go. Theresa will tell you the organization is her way of paying forward the support she received from loved ones during an extremely difficult time in her life. Theresa kept every note, every card, and pictures as visual reminders to continue her good fight. It wasn’t long before notes of encouragement and reminders of blessing began to overtake her living room. Theresa collected them into a basket someone had given her. At that moment, The Blessing Basket Project® was born. In 2004, with the aid of a student team, Theresa competed in and won the bootstrap category of the Olin Cup at Washington University in St. Louis. That resulted in a $20,000 loan followed by a $300,000 donation from the Skandalaris Family Foundation.
Memuna is the first woman in her village to operate a general store. Her entrepreneurial spirit was given wings thanks to the Prosperity Wages® she earned from The Blessing Basket® Project. She planted a large tomato crop. The money she raised from selling tomatoes enabled her to open this small store. She has expanded the store several times, even constructing a building from which to operate her successful venture. She is proof that the organizations unique financial model ends poverty in the lives of those it serves. Today she has graduated from The Blessing Basket Project program and spends her days running her business free of poverty. The pay to the weavers is reinvested into one’s own venture. Most of the new business owners go on to become employers in the community. Theresa quoted local officials saying they are very proud and the weaver graduation day and that they consider an historic day in the community. The Blessing Basket Project® is assisting about 2,000 weavers globally, with 1,000 of them being from Ghana.
In 2012 Theresa held her first ever poverty graduation ceremony in Ghana. The ceremony celebrated 25 individuals, whom The Blessing Basket Project® was serving, being officially out of poverty; no longer needing the Project’s assistance. These graduates are fully engaged in businesses promoting prosperity in their villages, like Memuna Salifu of Ghana.
A quote from the official Chief Martin Aberinga II of Bolga-Nyariga:
“It gladdens My heart for the celebration of the 8th anniversary of BBP entry into Nyariga Community. The occasions was unique in the history of Nyariga because this is the first time ever that an organization has so consistent in life changing and poverty reduction in my community since it was established in the 17th centuries.
Chief Martin Aberinga II of Bolga-Nyariga I would therefore sincerely thank BBP of USA and her partners and collaborators for their commitment. Indeed it is unprecedented that over a period of 7 years The Blessing Basket Project has assisted over 1,000 basket weavers and has been able to graduate over 30 weavers who are now making poverty a history. The fact that BBP brought about 120 young returnees from the capital city back to Nyariga has also made it possible by sending many of them back to classrooms and I am extremely happy that BBP has graduated over 50 students who would otherwise have been school drop- outs.
The Graduates who were nobody in the community are now recognized and respected in society because of their achievements of making poverty a history. They now own stores, more farm lands, trucks, businesses etc. The Benefits of BBP in Nyariga are countless. The BBP and Whole Foods Market support cannot be over emphasised. It is my hope that the Basket Weavers’ Day celebrations would be institutionalized as public holiday in the calendar of Nyariga Community.” Nana Martin Aberinga
The Blessing Basket Project is active in 7 countries around the world. To learn more about the organization and its Prosperity Wage® model – visit www.blessingbasket.org
Photo credits to www.blessingbasket.org and http://photoblog.mawulisikanku.com/