One of the most interesting activities during training in Bobo was our visit to GAFREH (Group d’action des femmes pour la reliance économique du Houet). This group of 60 women does a variety of income generating activities, and are most well known for their ability to utilize discarded plastic bags (which are everywhere here) along with cotton into fashionable bags. Most of their products are women’s purses, but they also make a variety of other bags, such as toiletry kits, pencil cases, coin purses, and grocery bags. They make a few other fun items as well, including hats, jackets and dolls out of the same material.
Recently, the group has been in the international news with the limited release of a new Yves Saint Laurent designer handbag. Though at $1,720 perhaps you’d be better off ordering through the company directly using the above link (or asking/bribing me to bring something home for you).
We were able to take a tour of the facility and were able to see the entire production process. Check out the photos below to follow the used plastic bag transformation from the initial collection, to washing, cutting, weaving, designing, and tailoring the finished goods: