SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.

SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.


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

Supply chain

  • Trade partner: SPB Uni Commerce, microenterprise
  • Function: Exporter and coordinator für CONTIGO
  • Structure: affiliated production groups
  • Distribution: Direct import CONTIGO


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

Why does CONTIGO work with SPB Uni-Commerz Ltd.:
It is a great challenge to provide work for the basket weavers in the Bolgatanga region. SPB is fighting the cheap competition of baskets from Asia by constantly improving the quality and colourful weaving patterns. After a visit on site, CONTIGO financed the purchase of large dyeing pots, which make the work of the weavers much easier. Every year, 2 to 3 containers with baskets reach us from Ghana. The founder Dr. Mainoo is a reliable partner for CONTIGO and the handicraft groups of his home country.

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



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 and Bolgatanga (2019)


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Ghana






Author: Janina Lange on 4. January 2021

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