This basket reflects the memorable colors of the Ghanaian countryside. The Asungtaba bicycle basket is woven from veta vera grass in the Northern region of Ghana. Whether used for small grocery trips, a catch all of small accessories or simply for a fashion statement, these incredibly durable baskets are sure to be a conversation piece. Their usefulness is outweighed only by their exquisite construction and passion with which each artisan crafts these baskets.
It started with an inspired remark by a House of Talents employee: “Wouldn’t these beautiful baskets make a lovely bicycle basket?” We had been working with Joseph and his community of Ghanaian basket weavers for only a few months. Yet, we knew the idea would help the weavers diversify their product line and reach a wider audience.
When we approached Joseph and the community of basket weavers, they welcomed the idea with enthusiasm. As it always seems to happen, it was just at this moment – the moment when opportunity needs a vehicle – that Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), a distributor of bicycle parts, accessories and apparel, entered the story.
A company built on community and environmental stewardship, QBP has been successfully executing on a business vision that masterfully balances business sustainability, recreation and service for over 25 years. The alignment of values and mission couldn’t be found in a more appropriate partner.
A series of ideas and designs were sent to Joseph, and in return came a series of rather amusing iterations. The first prototype had no provision for bicycle straps; the second took on the persona of a picnic basket and was large enough to hold a baby. The third prototype resembled a cylindrical cooler, which was innovative and excellently woven, but not exactly suitable for use as a bicycle basket.
The final prototype was developed after a trip toGhana, which allowed the House of Talents team to provide feedback directly to the artisans and help them make the necessary modifications. The community got to work and promised to send a new prototype as soon as they had perfected it.
Over the next month, Kate received several calls from Joseph with the faint voices of community members in the background. They were eager to know what she thought of their work, and each time it became more difficult to explain that the baskets had yet to arrive. Even across thousands of miles, it was easy to hear that Joseph was bursting with pride over their efforts, but wasn’t quite ready to let the cat out of the proverbial bag.
In April 2010, House of Talents Minneapolis headquarters received the first shipment of bicycle baskets, which were quickly presented to QBP for feedback. Kate was able to call Joseph and his community and share the excitement over the amazing work they had created. Kate proudly displays a few of the original baskets in her office, where they continue to serve as a reminder of what is possible when we dare to believe in something and challenge ourselves to make it happen. This is exactly what those involved did and what the talented poor can do when they are given the chance. There is always a chance to create magic through collaboration.
With support from QBP and other retailers who have since joined us, the bicycle baskets are providing income to over 1000 Ghanaian women in Joseph’s community. Additionally, House of Talents is providing health insurance for the basket weavers, establishing a library and a scholarship fund for the children in the community in which our basket weavers reside. As you can see, stewardship and opportunity can partner when simply inspired by those who take time to care.
Be inspired along with us! Happy Riding.
Care of Basket: To reshape: wet your basket (avoid getting the leather wet as it will damage the leather over time), let it sit for a few minutes for it to absorb the water, then shape. Let dry thoroughly. Avoid prolonged direct sunlight – since all dyes used are natural without artificial sealants, they will fade over time.