Geography

Research

Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

21. Homemade Ghanaian dolls, Prof. Katherine Gough

I first met Vida in 1998 when in Accra, Ghana, as part of my research focus on the socio-economic geography of cities in the global South. Like many low-income households, Vida’s home is not only where she lives but also her place of work. Whilst most women work as seamstresses, hairdressers, operate small provision stalls, or sell local food, Vida stood out as being especially entrepreneurial making dolls for tourists. Beautifully crafted, entirely by herself using scrap materials, Vida creates dolls that represent women engaged in everyday activities. She sells the dolls to middlemen resulting in low profits. Nevertheless, she has used the proceeds to educate her four children and consolidate her home. By following home-based enterprise operators, like Vida, over many years, my research has revealed how they can make an important contribution to social and economic development.

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