SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.

SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.


Profile of CONTIGO´s partner SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.


Baskets of different designs and shapes

Accra to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)


Office and warehouse: Accra, Ghana – distance to Europe: 4,400km
Basket production: region of Bolgatanga, 800 km north of Accra

Founded in 1989


  • Dr.-Ing. Victor Mainoo studies Mechanical Engineering in Germany
  • 1981: Dr. Mainoo returns to his native country Ghana, works until the 1990s for a Ghanaian national research institute (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- CSIR)
  • 1989/1990: With financial support from the Ausgleichsbank in Bonn, Dr.-Ing. Victor Mainoo and Dipl.-Ing. Kwame Addo Kissi found SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd., goals:
    • Marketing opportunities for small producers
    • Employment and income opportunities in rural areas to counter rural depopulation
    • Preservation and strengthening of traditional handicraft techniques
  • SPB helps small artisans to enhance knowledge and awareness in different issues, e.g. management, health, social and environmental responsibility
  • 1997: CONTIGO meets SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.
  • 1998: Beginning of trading partnership with CONTIGO
  • Developments and challenges:
    • Increasing migration of rural populations to major cities or abroad
    • Other industries offer better earning opportunities
    • Price increase of goods due to enormous exchange rate fluctuations (€ – Ghanaian Cedi)
    • Increasing competition for baskets from Asian low-wage countries
    • Number of producing groups decreased in the last decades from 30 to 5 today
    • Number of weavers decreased from formerly 700 to 90 today
    • SPB delivers 96% of its exports to Fair Trade customers

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 1998

Structure of the business

Number of employees:

  • 3 employees (2 women and 1 man)
  • Additional employees for quality control and packaging/logistics: 2 women and 8 men
  • Long-time cooperation with 5 rural cooperatives and several individual weavers in and around the village of Bolgatanga in northern Ghana (approximately 90 weavers)
    • Groups organize themselves completely by themselves
    • They do not produce exclusively for SPB, as full-year employment is not yet possible
    • Each group has specialised in a basket model or a colour combination
    • SPB provides (advance) financing for raw materials

Organisation of workforce:

  • The office in Accra is responsible for:
    • Warehousing finished baskets
    • Export organization
  • The office in Bolgatanga (northern Ghana):
    • Warehouse for finished baskets
    • In the rented, bright rooms the women can meet and weave (in addition the interchange is good for the team spirit)
    • The local coordinator places the orders, checks the quality, pays the agreed piece wages and organizes the transport to Accra
  • Background information:
    • Basket weaving is a seasonal work in the dry season (in the rainy season from July to October agriculture is done for own use)
    • Basket weaving is a secure additional income for the women to ensure schooling and family health care


  • Home market (2%)
  • Exports (98%)


  • To expand the Fairtrade customer base
  • To support small and disadvantaged producer groups in the rural areas of Ghana
  • To expand marketing of products to both, the local and international market
  • To establish an ecologically sustainable production chain
  • To strenghten the socio-political comprehension

Special features

  • SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd. conducts literacy courses and encourages participation in technical trainings

Why does CONTIGO work with SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.: Partnership since 1998. SPB Uni-Commerz’s baskets are bestsellers.


Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved


Fairtrade aspects


SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd. complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV

Fair wages

  • Minimum wage in the region: GHS 177/month (GHS= Ghana New Cedi)
  • Wage at SPB:
    • Permanent employees in Accra and the coordinator in Bolgantanga receive GHS 300/month
    • Weavers in Bolgatanga receive an agreed piece wage which is above the average market price. The monthly income depends on the time budget of the weavers
  • Monthly payment in cash
  • Higher wages in case of overtime

Humane working condition


Working hours:

Weavers organise the time and work by themselves:

  • 8 hours/day
  • 5 days/week

Social benefits:

Permanent employees receive:

  • Paid leave
  • Continued payment of wages in the event of illness or accidents
  • If necessary, weavers receive financial support by granting interest-free loans for school costs and medical bills
  • Support for producers in agricultural activities

Educational opportunities:

  • Expenses for training and education of employees are covered



  • Payroll is available
  • Pay slips are available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO



  • Personal visits in Accra (2019)


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Ghana






Author: Janina Lange on 30. July 2019

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