Added: Feb 16, 2021
Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
Dignified Wear trains people with disabilities to create shoes, handbags and accessories from waste tyres, excess fabric and broken beads.
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.
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.
This case study has been created as part of Footprints Africa's work to build the first ever comprehensive mapping of circular economy initiatives in Africa. This will lay the foundation open-source database that can inspire local initiatives, as well as inform the global dialogue, which is largely focused on the European and American contexts. We are doing this in collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). ACEN's vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.
The objective is to build an open-source database featuring 500 cases by the end of 2021, with strong regional representation. These will feature in the Knowledge Hub and are also being mapped by GRID-Arendal.
fashion and textiles
Waste as a resource