A Labor of Love

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By Taylor Hanna, Ghana Ambassador Volunteer

I met Love Tosu recently at her home near Tema, a coastal city just east of Accra. She heard about Zidisha from her brother Benjamin last year and has been using loans to scale up her work with beaded jewelry.

Love’s designs incorporate a variety of influences – putting a modern and cosmopolitan twist on traditional African designs. She sources her beads and materials from as far as Nigeria, the Czech Republic, and China, but makes sure to feature traditional Ghanaian beads (like the ones on the bracelets, pictured) in every piece.

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She says her customers want to wear jewelry that feels modern and at home in the city but that recalls their heritage and, to stay ahead of trends, she gets inspiration online. Her most recent work involves twisting wire from China around African beads in intricate patterns (see images of necklaces).

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Love has overcome significant challenges since her husband passed away nine years ago. Suddenly she needed to find a way to support three children as a single mother. So although she had a degree in fashion and worked as a seamstress, she branched out to incorporate and then focus on beadwork.

Now the whole, artistically talented family gets involved. Her older children, 23 and 20, have started beadwork themselves. And her youngest daughter, 11-year-old Jasmine, often draws designs that they then create. (You can see some of her other drawings below.)

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Zidisha has afforded Love the opportunity to purchase stocks of materials for her designs. Most of her work is made to order and often purchased on credit, with customers paying at the end of the month when they receive their salary. Before joining Zidisha, Love was often forced to stop producing jewelry while she was waiting for payments from her customers to accumulate enough capital to buy new beads and other materials.  Now, having the ability to buy extra materials in advance has allowed Love to stay consistently busy, multiplying her production and revenue as she is putting her youngest child through school.

I know Love is incredibly thankful for the support she has received from her lenders and looks forward to growing her business further. I recently returned to Tema and was excited to get to visit Love again and purchase some jewelry for myself and family. I also have to credit “Mama Love’s” house as the first place I tried sobolo – a sweet and refreshing drink made with bissap leaves, water, and ginger.

Anyway, Love, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me! It was a pleasure to meet you and Jasmine.

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