aklala du Togo

Documenting the progress of a women's cooperative who create colorful batiked handbags and accessories in Togo, West Africa

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

new products!!

Great new funky bangles!!

The perfect clutch for all your needs, be it nightly rendezvous or just that weekend venture!

A sturdy flip top messenger tote perfect for a day at the beach or carting your office around in style!

What used to carry flour now totes your favorite athletic partner!

          For more information, availability and pricing feel free to contact me @ meglynn.ryan@gmail.com 

Chantal Donvide, founder of aklala batik @ AWEP 2012

 It is amazing to see her growth in the years following my departure from Togo.  I was pleased to discover, through Ashley that Chantal was one of 47 women selected from West Africa to attend this years conference of African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program that took place in New York, California, DC and Ohio.  It is her first time in the US and I was graced with the chance to reconnect with her in person, at my home in DC! I am so proud of her and the women of aklala in all that they have accomplished to set the standard for ethical business development in Togo!

The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is a State Department initiative launched in July 2010 to identify and build networks of women entrepreneurs across Sub-Saharan Africa who are poised to transform their communities by owning; running; and operating small and medium businesses, and to drive social and economic progress in their communities and countries. AWEP supports the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), to create better business environments and promote U.S. - Africa trade.

 Chantal (2nd from upper right in blue) poses with the other participants of the AWEP 2012 group of 47 women from sub-Saharan Africa who met with Secretary Clinton as part of the AGOA Forum on Africa's growth in DC on June 14th.

AWEP U.S. - Africa Exchange
Through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs brings women entrepreneurs from African nations to the United States. Each year, approximately 40 African women entrepreneurs attend professional development meetings and network with U.S. policy makers, companies and industry associations, non-profit groups, and multilateral development organizations. For three weeks, the AWEP participants share best practices, discuss common challenges and learn about the global economy and factors that lead to long-term business growth.

AWEP U.S. - Africa Exchange 2012: June 3-23
In 2012, AWEP participants attend events held in conjunction with the U.S.-hosted 2012 AGOA Forum in Washington, DC, and a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The women meet with U.S. counterparts and experts in three sectors, based on their area of expertise: agribusiness/food processing, textiles/fashion design, and home décor/accessories. Throughout the program, the women develop advocacy and communication skills, as well as attend workshops on accessing capital and U.S. markets, best business practices, and social entrepreneurship. The program opens in New York, New York, followed by split into smaller groups based on expertise to visit Kalamazoo, Michigan; Greenville, North Carolina; Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco, California; Portland, Oregon; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Seattle, Washington. Exchange program partners in 2012 include Entrepreneurs Organization, the Corporate Council on Africa, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Labor.

African Women: Drivers of Their Economies

Upon returning home, some alumnae of the AWEP U.S. - Africa exchange have started their own local AWEP chapters, educated aspiring entrepreneurs about exporting, established or strengthened organizations that support women’s empowerment, and increased their business capacity and revenues. AWEP alumnae have the opportunity to work with USAID’s three regional trade hubs in Africa to increase international export competitiveness and intra-regional trade. The State Department also works with the private sector to secure targeted public private partnerships that stimulate business growth, create better business environments, and increase trade capacity. 2012-2013 partnerships currently include Intel Corporation, the ExxonMobil Foundation, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

AWEP Supports African Businesswomen by:
  • Increasing the trade capacity of their SMEs regionally and internationally under AGOA
  • Recognizing and expanding the roles women play as advocates for strengthening national business climates for all women
  • Securing public private partnerships that stimulate create better business environments and stimulate the women’s business growth                                                                                (source: US Dept of State website: http://exchanges.state.gov/ivlp/awep.html)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Congrats Ashley and Chantal!!

I am proud to share with you  a recent presentation Chantal and Ashley gave Ambassador Melanee Verveero, Head of Global Women's Issues at the US State Department during Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Togo!!

 Ashley Lewis and Chantal Donvide represented Peace Corps Togo and thier work in Kpalimé. Ashley has been assisting Chantal in the continued growth and development of her business, aklala batik during her service as a Small Business Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps.  Since Chantal and I laid the groundwork for the opening of her successful batik business in 2008, she has continued to expand her operations and clients through continued assistance and support from Ashley coupled with Chantal's inner drive to be a successful businesswoman.  Ashley was able to take what we had started and concentrate on assisting Chantal craft a working business model to continue her success.  In the two years since Ashley arrived, I have seen so much growth in aklala batik and in Chantal.  It is her drive and passion, coupled with the foundation of support offered by the Peace Corps in Togo to promote her business.  
Chantal is my hero, and I am the one inspired.

Congratulations Chantal and Ashley!
Hillary, I hope you love your gift! Enjoy!

Please stay tuned on the continued development of aklala batik! If you are interested in any products feel free to contact me here:  meglynn.ryan@gmail.com  

Ak bey ka ka LOOO!  (Merci, Thank YOU!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Support Growth in the World

Thanks to all of you who have followed my work with Chantal over the two years while I was in Togo with her and the women of aklala. With a dream and a vision, her and I were able to start a successful business and connect her to others who can work towards sustaining her development.  Though I believe the ground-work we laid has made her independently successful and with that I feel that her and aklala stand as one.

While I make the transition to DC I will be working on promoting her work stateside.  If you have any interest in her products as a buyer please let me know and I can send you the current catalog.  New products will be added shortly and uploaded to this blog so check back soon! 

New branding logo placement on bags currently for sale at "The Evergreen" in Ludington, MI

Sac du Soiree Clutch with hand dyed batik and tropical handles

Ak bey ka ka looo!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

aklala hits the big apple!

Come Join us at the New York International Gift Fair!!
January 30th through February 4th 
Booth #2483 Jacob K. Javits Center

aklala batik will be presented as part of the AfricaNow! booth supported by

USAID. Pangea. West .

Coming Soon!!

Visit our marketplace and purchase aklala's products online

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Come and Shop!

Hey there!
As we begin to market aklala stateside here is a taste of what we will have to offer!
Feel free to mingle and dance around in the colors of Africa!
Why settle for just one color. aklala patches together many patterns to offer a rainbow of colors available in a cute new hobo bag. Get your groove on!

Chantal discussing an order with a client from France who's mother's business purchased the remaining inventory at the end of the FESPACO international trade show in March to market in France.

Business is Blooming Colors

So things are moving along well in the progression of aklala batik. Chantal and the women have never ceased to amaze me as I get ready to leave Togo at the end of my 2 year service facilitating her creation and growth. Not only do I feel as if I have accomplished what I came here to achieve, I have also aided in encouraging the capacity now found in Chantal and the others who work alongside her.

Etonam and Beatrice start the production for an order  for a US client.  Chantal and the women of aklala have been able to secure many international orders for their bags due to honoring a commitment to share a bit of their culture with others and do so in great style!

Etonam sews together pieces of batiked cloth to form the patchwork fabric to make into bright and cheerful bags.

Chantal's son Eli, the "smallest tailor" strikes a pose for me as I photograph their newest investment, an embroidery machine made possible by increased revenue. Chantal felt that it would be wise to offer more services locally while having the capacity to create new products from it's use. She employed the local embroiderer to run the machine where she used to order the service for her clients. Now others come to her for the same needs.

Chantal works on the terrace of her new workshop and boutique which has helped bring in additional profits during the tourist season.