In our first episode of The Sustainability Series, we would like to introduce you to the beautiful social enterprise Mmaa Social launched by Deborah. We had the great pleasure to meet Deborah from Mmaa Social who are working with families in Africa to produce vibrant and beautiful baskets. Please see below to learn more about Deborah and Mmaa and what makes them so special.

 1. What made you want to start Mmaa?

During a trip to Ghana in July 2017 with CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education, I met Dorcas Apoore, the Founder of the Collectives that weave Mmaa baskets.  She was still in University at the time but already had an ambitious mission to provide fair incomes for women weaving the baskets that had so often been exploited in the past as well as develop health and social programmes.  The baskets were love at first sight and the energy and passion of the weavers during our first meeting was contagious. I started out by bringing around twenty baskets to the U.K. a few months later and Mmaa launched in April 2018.   Dorcas’ expansive vision of fair income and the weavers’ incredible talent made it impossible not to start Mmaa!  We decided to support the sanitary pad project given that girls, particularly in a context of rural poverty, miss up to 20% of school days due to their periods and this can lead to leaving school and even child marriage.

Deborah and colourful baskets

Image Copyright Mmaa Social

  

2. What’s your brand vision and your vision for the future ? 

We have been humbled by the incredible community that has grown over the past two and a half years.  We are committed to enabling the growth and sustainability of the Collectives that weave our baskets in Ghana.  We are over the moon that they are also starting to work directly with new clients. As the Collectives branch out and start working more broadly internationally, we would also love to start working with another Collective in Central/Southern Africa.  The Collectives in Ghana began with just thirty women and today there are over 429 women weaving basket art.  It would be incredible if Dorcas were able to mentor another Collective so that they are also able to provide similar livelihood opportunities and social programmes.  We are thoroughly committed to ensuring that the baskets are recognised as the fine craft that they are and that the women who make them receive the remuneration they deserve.

 

Image Copyright Mmaa Social

3.What does sustainability mean to you and how important is it to you? Any apps, news, websites you follow on this?

 Sustainability influences every aspect of what we do at Mmaa.  The baskets are woven from elephant grass which grows abundantly in the savannas of Ghana and is even biodegradable if left on a compost heap for six months (though we wouldn’t recommend it!). The Market Baskets are a perfect replacement for plastic bags.  They are robust, sustainable and make shopping trips not only chic but also environmentally friendly.  On a human level, our work must be sustainable by ensuring the women who weave the baskets are fairly paid.  For us, a product is sustainable if both the human and environmental factors promote the well being of the planet and the people on it!

Image Copyright Mmaa Social

4. Places to visit in your home town (flea markets, sustainable shopping, a must see place, nature – please add a few different ones)?

In Provence:

Markets:  The Brocante markets have all sorts of treasures from mismatched glasses to candlesticks and vintage clothing.  L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue has the best brocante market on a Sunday. For fresh, sustainable produce from the region, the Coustellet Farmers’ Market is unparalleled and you can also find the best West African food and drink from Mahmoud at Marmite d’Afrique.

Nature: We live in the Luberon National Park recognised by UNESCO for its natural beauty.  There are walking paths across the region with particular favourites including Colorado Provençal for its stunning red rocks and a recent discovery of a trail around the perched village of Menerbes.  Cultural highlights include the Festival of Lacoste where we watched Andrea Bocelli perform last summer.

In Cambridge:

My favourite walks are Grantchester Meadows as well as walking through the city centre early in the morning while it is still empty.  It is also worthwhile hiring a punt to have a boat tour through the backs of the Colleges.  Punters like to provide a colourful history of the city which is usually true!  If you are able to visit a College, it is also fascinating to see the inner courtyards and beautiful gardens.  There is a traditional market square with all sorts of stalls from fresh produce to bread, flowers and the best arepas this side of Colombia.

Image Copyright Mmaa Social

5.What was your favourite vacation, where do you like to travel?

 Besides my favourite places – Ghana and Provence – I would definitely have to choose Brazil.  My favourite place in Brazil is a small beach town called Trancoso in Bahia.  It is an old hippie haven that has kept the incredibly laid back vibe.  The town is built around the quadrado, a square where you can find everything from locals playing soccer to capoeira circles to boutiques selling local craft and the best moqueca (fish stew) in Brazil.  You walk down to the beach through a corridor of jungle forest where a sign implores you to be quiet and look and listen in the silence for the sloths, tropical birds and monkeys then through a mangrove to a wild beach.   It is a great place to lose yourself in time and meet fascinating people.  There is a lot of crossover between West African culture and the Northeast of Brazil including African influences on food and dance.

6.Any Instagram’s Accounts to follow – Instainspirators?

There are so many positive accounts out there to follow but I would recommend Nadia Narian (@nadianarain), Melissa Hemsley (@melissahemsley) and Emma Watson (@emmawatson), all friends of Mmaa and women we respect tremendously.  Nadia is a London based yoga teacher whose classes helped me get through my first pregnancy and who is calming, motivating and funny.  She has a huge heart and helped launch Mmaa by sharing the love and it is hard to imagine we would be where we are now without Nadia.  Melissa Hemsley is a chef and changemaker who embodies sustainability in food.  Her recipes are delicious as is her commitment to minimising food waste and helping to ensure no Londoner goes hungry.  Finally, Emma Watson is a constant inspiration – not just for her great taste in Mmaa baskets having worn the Rita for British Vogue – but for her unwavering commitment to gender equality.  We find Nadia, Melissa and Emma’s accounts to be a fabulous mix of inspiration for the mind, body and soul!

Via Vogue Magazin

Sign up to our newsletter to learn about the Giveaway we have waiting for you with Mmaa Social and how to participate.  Share your sustainability goals for this year with us over at @nayaglow #nayaglow and what #consciouslittlesteps you are taking.