Fearless Planet projects support women entrepreneurs and create jobs for low-income women. Our projects incorporate health and education initiatives through which thousands of women and children benefit. Here is an overview of our work in West Africa and South America:
Our projects in Ghana
Asume Organic Palm Oil Production
This project began in 2005 and has grown into a thriving organic palm oil production enterprise. Fearless Planet initiated the program in collaboration with two American companies, Jungle Products and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Company, with a grant from the German government agency, GIZ . Through this program, hundreds of farmers in Ghana’s Eastern Region have received training in organic palm farming and organic certification for their palm farms, and are selling their harvests at a premium price to Dr. Bronner’s in a fair trade arrangement that has brought greater prosperity to the region. The project has enabled a women’s cooperative to be established that processes palm fruit and produce palm oil in a safe and healthy environment, a great improvement over common production practices in Ghana. Our project initiated a hot meal plan for the hundreds of women working at the project’s cooperative processing facility, as well as showers and toilets available to all staff, most of whom do not have bathrooms in their homes. In 2010, Fearless Planet handed project management over to Dr. Bronner’s, which has continued to expand and contribute to the local community through community health and education programs.
Ningo Red Hot ChiLI Peppers
Working with Fearless Planet, a women's cooperative from the rural town of Old Ningo teamed up with local farmers to plant, harvest, dry, and grind, chili peppers. Fearless Planet's in-house design experts worked with the technical team from GIZ, the German government development agency, to produce ingenious solar food driers for the project which are easily stacked on top of each other for storage, and have collapsible legs, making them simple to move from farm to farm in the trunk of a car. The project enabled farmers to receive organic and fair trade certification from the Swiss certifying agency, IMO.
The Ningo women grind and package the chilies in a hygienic facility with equipment provided by Fearless Planet through grants from Citi Bank Foundation and Western Union. Additional project support was provided by Link Afrique, a Ghanaian logistic company, whose owner, Ester Twum, has contributed her business expertise to Fearless Planet's food production and processing projects in Ningo. Link Afrique's help has enabled our partners in Ningo to maintain greater control over the pricing and distribution of their crops and products.
The peppers are sold locally to markets in Accra, Ghana's capital city, and exported. Colorful hand-made cotton batik gift bags are dyed and sewn by the women's collective, providing an additional value-added processing step that further enhances the viability of this high quality and high profit-margin product.
ElMina Batik Project
Batik is indigenous to Ghana, where colorful fabrics with beautiful patters and symbolic designs are worn and seen everywhere. In Ghana batik fabric is a labor-intensive process produced using hand-carved stamps to create designs which are printed on fabric and dyed in small batches,all done by hand.
The objective of this project was to provide an income opportunity for women in Elmina, a rural coastal fishing village. The women participating in the project were low-income mothers whose families relied on their wages for subsistence.
The fearless Planet design team provided the women with a prototype product: a yoga mat bag. These bags seemed an ideal first product for the group of seamstresses and batik artisans; simple to make, constructed solely from cloth and thread, and with a clearly identifiable market.
At the onset of the project, training in batik fabric design and production was provided for the women from Elmina, who traveled nearly 200 miles to spend one month studying with Mama Ree, Ghana’s leading batik artist, at her studio. The Elmina women formed a collective which Fearless Planet supported with seed capital and a purpose-built workshop in a prime Elmina location frequented by foreign and local tourists.
The gorgeous, colorful patterns and functional design of these yoga mat bags brought orders from yoga studios across the United States. The project has also produced personalized logo batik promotional materials for local companies in Ghana, Fearless Planet bandanas, and a variety of bags. Additional project activities include batik-making classes at the Elmina workshop for tourist groups, including the New York University study abroad program.
The project was supported by a grant from Tzedek for Development, a UK based NGO, and Ghana’s Ministry of Women and Children.
Tropical Fruit drying
Fearless Planet worked with local start-up company, Nature's Natural, who had secured orders for dried fruit but lacked the capital to invest in equipment and a facility. We provided training in organic and fair trade certification, and through a grant from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands constructed a professional fruit dryer using appropriate technology, and outfitted a facility to meet export hygiene standards. The German government development agency, GIZ, contributed additional technical support, further strengthening the project.
Our projects in Liberia
Professional Skills Development in Liberia
In 2012 World ORT, an international NGO which Fearless Planet has partnered on a number of projects, requested Fearless Planet's assistance with their Literacy and Training for Employment Project (LTIP) in Liberia. We assisted ORT with consultation on potential income generating activities, and drew on our extensive network of technical expertise in West Africa to identify and contract trainers from Ghana to provide skill training in impoverished communities in Bonga, Lofa, and Nimba, counties. Since 2012, Fearless Planet has continued to work with ORT's LTIP programs, providing logistical support for soil testing for clay brick production, securing new project funding, and designing a behavioral health education program.
our projects in Argentina
Carved wooden ear plugs, Argentina
In rural Northern Argentina the Wichi, an indigenous tribe, live in impoverished conditions where women provide the majority of household income as well as being responsible for the home and childcare. In this community, helping men with business opportunities is one of the most productive ways of helping women. While Wichi women produce crafts made from natural materials, including hand-woven fiber baskets, jewelry, and textiles, the men have little access to employment and are often unable to provide for their families. In addition, a high proportion of men in the Wichi community suffer from alcohol addiction and depression. Fearless Planet was requested to help introduce new economic opportunities, and brought a project to the Wichi men enabling them to use their woodworking skills to produce inlaid wooden earplugs for the U.S. company Painful Pleasures, who wholesale piercing and tattooing supplies. This project brought together a traditional community and a contemporary market demand with unique synergy.