Plastic bags had sadly become an usual element of African landscape. They are everywhere. They lay in the middle of the streets, they hung from tree branches, they float in the rivers, they fly around in the dusty wind, …
Here there’s no real trash recollection service, so plastic bags pile up everywhere and, with time, they break up in pieces and embed in the soil. The bags kill thousands of animals that swallow them when looking for food on the ground, they increase malaria cases because they cause water stagnation and, moreover, they pollute air and soil when burned. Several African government are already fighting against this environmental issue, but they face a big challenge because of the lack of a cheap alternative and the pressure of the big plastics lobbies.
In 2002, a Burkinabe decided to take advantage of the millions black plastic bags that fill the streets of Bobo-Dioulasso and created a social enterprise called Gafreh that now employs 5.000 women. Gafreh workers collect plastic bags from the city streets and bring them to the factory where they carefully clean and transform them in plastic threads that are used to weave fashion bags, backpacks, wallets and even shoes and jackets. The final products are so good that Gafreh was able to find distributors in all European countries and even in North America.
Gafreh not only gives a job to its 5.000 employees, it also offers them literacy courses and professional training in various fields for all interested women. This way Gafreh offers a solution to several critical issues in Burkina Faso: pollution, female unemployment and lack of education among women.
We loves so much this project that Miriam bought this comfortable (and very nice!!!) backpack and she uses it every single day! 🙂