Dorcas Apoore grew up in Northern Ghana, in a remote village so small that it isn’t even on a map. Her mother was married at a young age and never got to finish school, a cycle that Dorcas saw repeated for a great many girls in her village. Most often, this is an attempt to reduce the financial burden for families living in poverty. Even today, 1 in 5 girls in Ghana are married before they reach adulthood, setting up a lifetime for women of working long hours in menial jobs to support growing families.
Through sheer determination, Dorcas forged a different path. She didn’t have books, a uniform, or even shoes, but Dorcas walked to school every day that she could. Although the journey had starts and stops as she searched for work to afford tuition, Dorcas finished school and went on to University. She never forgot the women in her rural village, and the profound disconnect between their ceaseless work ethic and inability to break out of the cycle of poverty. Many were talented artisans in traditional handicraft, yet couldn’t afford to feed their children.
Dorcas decided to do something about this, and in 2017 approached The Pollination Project for seed funding to build a cooperative network of women-led basket weavers. They weave bright, beautiful, and artistic baskets of all shapes and sizes, using both repurposed and native materials. Dorcas has built partnerships with exporters to fetch a fair price for these works of art, and has offered financial literacy coaching to help the women in the collaborative open savings accounts.
From the humble beginnings of one small seed grant, Dorcas was able to receive other funding, gain international recognition, and build her labor of love. Today, her vision employs 429 women in Ghana. She has been able to personally facilitate the return to school for many others, and has helped relieve the financial burdens that result in families feeling forced to offer their daughters for early marriage. Since 2018, Dorcas has also given countless hours to other changemakers by serving as a volunteer grant advisor for The Pollination Project.
“We are on the international stage because The Pollination Project believed in our vision,” says Dorcas. “It is such a joy to be in this family.”