Use waste as a resource, Rethink the business model
1End poverty in all its forms everywhere
8Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
12Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
The opportunity is twofold. On the one hand, people living with disabilities in Ghana are often marginalised, living in poverty because they struggle to gain employment. However, with the right support and opportunities, there are many paid roles they could take on.
On the other hand, there is abundant waste that could be repurposed in the fashion industry instead of causing harm to society and the environment. Old tyres, for example, harbour stagnant water, providing a rich breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Alternatively, they are burnt, creating noxious air pollution.
Other ‘waste’ products that could be repurposed - scrap fabrics, cotton threads, recycled glass and plastic bottles – are mostly neglected.
Mabel Suglo is a social entrepreneur who grew up in a community where disabled people were subjected to discrimination and stigmatisation. Mabel saw how her grandmother, a single mother who had leprosy, was able to defy the odds by farming a piece of land to provide for and educate her children and grandchildren. Mabel set up Dignified Wear in her honour to empower marginalised people living with disability and to prove that their disability is no obstacle.
Dignified Wear is a social enterprise that uses circular economy principles to turn waste into value. They manufacture and sell shoes, handbags, traditional clothing and accessories. They buy waste tyres at a low price and collect discarded pieces of fabric from local dressmakers.
They embellish their products with beads they manufacture themselves from broken glass. Inspired by the incredible achievements of her grandmother, Mabel provides training and employment for people with disabilities and rural women. The first few employees were sponsored to attend a vocational school and they now act as trainers for new employees.
In addition, Dignified Wear provides support for selected trainees to go on and set up their own businesses.