About TradeAID

International Citizen Service is a global volunteering scheme which aims to give young people aged 18-25 an opportunity to make a difference to some of the world's poorest people through real development work. 

International Service aims to protect and promote the rights of the most marginalised people in developing countries, such as women, disabled people, children and young people, and people living with HIV/AIDS.  By working through long-term partnerships with local community organisations and governmental departments, International Service helps support people to understand their rights, and put them into action, so they are empowered to change their lives for the better.

TradeAID Integrated was formed in 2000 by Apokerah Nicholas following his undergraduate research project on the basket weaving industry in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region of Ghana. 

The vision of the organisation is to see a ‘Northern Ghana where poverty has been eradicated through sustainable, successful enterprises created around the indigenous livelihoods of the people in these regions’. 

The development issues tackled by TradeAID reflect its mission which is ‘to help the productive poor to create and manage viable business ventures in order to escape poverty’. In summary TradeAID Integrated works towards empowering the poor through entrepreneurship and more efficient trading. 

Examples of the work of TradeAID Integrated include the support of small producers of baskets and smocks, improving the quality of their products and eventually their access to fair markets. The key strategies of TradeAID include product development, capacity building, market development and linkages. Their key thematic areas are access to the market, access to financial services, advocacy, and business skills training. 

TradeAID is divided into eight distinct projects, this includes the Basket Weaving Support project which is a standalone project but also falls into others within TradeAID. There are also two INCOME Projects; Canadian Feed the Children (CFTC) also known as the core project and the International Service (IS) INCOME Project, as well as: the CFTC Change Project; Two scale project; Shea to Market; and Quality Rice (PROCOM) project. Another project which aims to educate the public on issues that affect them surrounding trade, agriculture and marketing is called ‘Trade in Focus’. 

Context of the projects:
Small holder farming accounts for 95% of households in the Bolgatanga Municipality.  However, the gains from farming are very minimal with only one farming season each year lasting just four months, increasing climate variability, and competing demands for land due to increasing population growth. World Food Programme (2009) estimates indicate that 15% of households are food insecure annually and another 20% of households are vulnerable to food insecurity. 

Given the numerous challenges confronting the production of food, the people have adopted other coping mechanisms- which include the production of traditional handicrafts to augment their incomes from farming. Unfortunately, in spite of the uniqueness of these traditional handicrafts, access to fair markets still remain as a major challenge confronting small producers of hand woven straw baskets and smocks. 

The INCOME Project:

As a result of partnership between TradeAID Integrated and International Service the ‘Integrated Community Empowerment’ (INCOME) Project was set at the beginning of 2013. 

This particular INCOME Project seeks to improve the lives of craft producers in the Bolgatanga area through various activities designed to build capacity, up-skill, and provide access to free and fair markets. The rationale behind the project comes from the fact that through the support given to these small producers of traditional handicrafts they are able to improve their overall household income. The groups that the INCOME project works with are the disabled craftswomen, basket weavers, smock makers, fabric weavers and leather workers.

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