Beginning a Transformation | Four Month Update on The EPR Fund

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Four Month Update #1
Our Agreement with SHEIN: We receive $5M a year for three years in two installments per year. We received the first installment ($2.5M) on June 30th, 2022. This comes out of the overall EPR fund that SHEIN agreed to set up to benefit multiple organizations and communities, which is $50 Million over 5 years, or $10 Million a year.

What have we been up to since receiving the first installment?

Mabilgu Program for women and girls working as Kayayei

  • We grew the Mabilgu team from 1 full time team member to 5 full time and one part time team members.
  • Before our agreement with SHEIN we had to prioritize emergency cases, supporting only 18 girls of the 100 who participated in our Chiropractic Research and Treatment Program to leave head-carrying. In June (before the funds were received) we met with the women who were still in Accra but who we had not been able to support and ensured that all of them could stop carrying while we secured apprenticeships.
  • We now have 46 women from our Chiropractic Program in active apprenticeships in Accra. We have financially supported 30 women who have chosen to return home to their communities in the north of Ghana. We are working to find placements for all 100 including laying the groundwork for apprenticeship options in Tamale should they wish to stay closer to home.
  • We increased the budget allocated to each apprentice from $1,000 to $6,000. This includes increasing hourly pay and increasing overall contribution to savings as well as providing healthcare and more extensive programming.
  • In addition to monthly classes on financial literacy, health, including breast cancer screenings; and other topics, we have added a series of opt-in courses that apprentices can choose to participate in, including self-defense, swimming, English and Twi. We have also added extracurricular activities such as going to see Woman King.
  • In process: Housing for program participants and a full-time nurse.

Community Engagement & Secondhand Solidarity Fund

  • We have expanded our Community Engagement team from 1 full time team member to 4.
  • We have conducted over 100 Community Meetings across the informal market and within various government and partner organizations. These meetings include an introduction to our Secondhand Solidarity Fund, a discussion of goals, and feedback on Upfitting Kantamanto. In addition, several retailers have become Program Ambassadors, sharing our work with their colleagues.
  • On October 23rd we hosted the first Obroni Wawu October in collaboration with a group of Kantamanto retailers as well a group of online resellers, thrifters and upcyclers. Over 600 people attended this event, a celebration of Kantamanto and an effort to bridge the gap between Kantamanto retailers and the online thrift community.
  • In preparation for traveling with a Delegation of Kantamanto community members to advocate for globally accountable EPR policies, we have hosted 6 weeks of Value Chain classes where the Delegation has learned more about the role that Kantamanto plays within the value chain of fashion, including speaking with guests such as Nasreen Sheikh.
  • We have dedicated $500,000 a year to our Secondhand Solidarity Fund, to support crisis relief, debt relief, educational support and business remodeling for the communities we work with. We have hired two people to assist in scaling fund distribution in collaboration with members of the market.
  • In process: Outreach offices in Kantamanto, passports for more community members, a blog feature on our website to better share updates, policy papers and research, and community bank accounts

Ecological Research

  • We have hired a full time Research Technician and Coordinator and set up an in-house lab for analyzing water samples for microfiber pollution.
  • 350 water samples have been taken in and around the Korle Lagoon and nearby beaches for microscopic analysis to determine environmental impact of textile waste.
  • 849 textile tentacles have been counted on 7km of Accra’s beaches since July 1 through the continued work of our 9 person beach monitoring team.
  • 400km of the Volta River system have been traversed to assess for risks, prepare for logistics and take initial water samples to support a Volta River Swim for Science Expedition
  • We have launched the Volta Swin Project Open Call for local storytellers.
  • In process: We are hiring a Lab Assistant and will soon be expanding our research to include air sampling and we are working with a local company to build a research vessel for the Volta Swim Project, for research on ocean textile waste and to support local scientists in advancing their own research on the intersection of plastic pollution and climate change.

Material R&D

  • 2 Metric Tons of clothing waste have been collected and transformed directly by our efforts, this is exclusive of the support we have given to retailers and upcyclers to help keep garments in circulation and remanufacture items within the market. This material transformation can currently be described as functional experimentation with otherwise wasted t-shirts turned into fiberboard for tables and sound diffusion or transformed into cushions. We plan to launch our first product for the Ghanaian market by January 2023.
  • We have hired 2 full time team members and one apprentice to build the infrastructure for an Incubator. One team member has completed training with local partner Footprints Africa to gain valuable insights as we prepare to launch the Incubator in early 2023 with capacity to support 10 local businesses.

Regranting / Donations

  • Between September 9th and October 12th we have redistributed a total of $92,400 in no-strings-attached grants, capacity support and donations to eight organizations with contributions ranging between $1000 and $25,000.
  • Recipients include Kayayei Youth Association, Kokrobitey Institute, Empowerment Collective (Nepal), Warembo Wasanii Initiative (Kenya), Upcycled Thrift Ghana, Garment Workers Center (USA) and LGBT+ Rights Ghana.
  • In addition to this we are paying the salary of members of two organizations and we have created a training program for women working with the Kayayei Youth Association to grow organizational capacity.
  • In process: We continue to engage organizations and allied groups with the intent to redistribute at least $250,000 in total by June 2023.

Internal Capacity

  • From 6 full time and 9 part-time employees to 25 full-time + 2 residents in Ghana and 3 residents in the USA.
  • As done previously, every employee and resident is paid in USD. Our pay gap until July was 1:1. Now the annualized income of the lowest paid employee and our highest paid employee represents a pay gap of 1:1.3.
  • Co-founders Liz and Branson began paying themselves as full-time team members at the end of 2021, before the agreement, and will earn $21,900 pre-tax (USA) in 2022.
  • For more on how we calculate wages and our budgetary ethics you can read our 2021 Annual Report linked in bio (2022 will be published in April 2023).
  • We have hired a Digital Producer and Communications Manager who have been working on documenting our efforts and rethinking our approach to communications with a focus on local outreach.
  • In process: We have created the framework for an internal Healthcare Fund and are in the process of establishing our organization with nearby providers.