In the early 1960s, Sia Yambire was born in Bolgatanga, a village in northeastern Ghana, close to the country’s border with Burkina Faso. Like many in Bolgatanga, Sia grew up humbly, living in a mud hut with no electricity, running water, or plumbing.
In 1992, Sia moved to the United States, and to make a living, began importing his tribe’s beautiful and world-famous baskets. Since Sia grew up alongside the weavers whom he now works closely with, he is uniquely invested in their wellbeing. Because of this, Sia pays his weavers better than fair trade rates.
Now, when Sia goes back to Bolgatanga for four months every year, he is lovingly referred to by many in his tribe as “America Man”. He is widely known in his village for his good work and philanthropy (for one example, see http://ayinema.org).
Because of the region’s climate (unpredictable rain patterns, largely infertile soil), Bolga’s people cannot rely on farming to survive. Instead, they are skilled craftspeople.
Bolgatanga’s intricate, brightly colored artisan baskets are certainly the pride of the region. In fact, they’re world famous. They are a symbol of quality, heritage, pride, and hope. Sia’s people, the Gurune tribe, are revered worldwide for their skill as craftspeople, and Bolga is the hub of the craft. Within the community, there are weavers who stand out for their superior skills. These are the weavers of Bolga Ayia.
Since Sia grew up with the women and men who weave the baskets, he has personal relationships with them. They are his family and his friends. Sia loves them and is invested in their wellbeing and success. Because of their mutual love and close tribal bond, Sia is able to be uniquely involved in the production and exporting processes.