Kantamanto Social Club

Kantamanto Social Club is a platform and community that shines a spotlight on Accra’s upcycling heroes operating within the world's largest secondhand market, Kantamanto Market. By featuring upcycled creations transported through suitcase trade, this initiative tackles critical themes such as labour, waste colonialism, accessibility, and sustainability.

Daan Sonnemans
Master Industrial Design

Over het initiatief / About the initiative

Kantamanto Social Club

In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?

Uitgewerkt conceptfase

Heb je jouw initiatief al gevalideerd? / Did you validate your initiative?

We are currently organising our first pop-up

Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative

Have you ever wondered what happens to your clothes when you donate them to textile bins? While it may seem like a virtuous act, providing for the less fortunate, the truth is that most of these donated garments end up in the Global South. The physical responsibility of disposal is passed on, traveling thousands of kilometers to be forced upon someone else.

Enter Kantamanto Social Club, a platform and community that shines a spotlight on Accra’s upcycling heroes operating within the world’s largest secondhand market, Kantamanto Market. Each week, this bustling market receives a staggering 15 million garments from the Global North, predominantly Europe. Shockingly, 40% of these garments are discarded as waste, contributing to a dire public health crisis and devastating the livelihoods of many while wreaking havoc on the environment. This disturbing phenomenon can be best described as Waste Colonialism, where land is dominated for the sole purpose of disposal.

Kantamanto Social Club is supported by the OR Foundation, a public charity based in the USA that has been a registered charity in Ghana since 2011. Together with The OR Foundation Kantamanto Social Club advocates for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which calls for producers to take responsibility for their products throughout their lifecycle, including disposal. By promoting EPR, we hope to work with stakeholders to encourage sustainable product design, recycling, and reduce harm to the environment. Our goal is to drive systemic change and create a sustainable, equitable future for all.

Kantamanto Social Club is seeking to actively engage in a range of initiatives, campaigns, and activities that foster opportunities in the Global South while raising awareness in the Global North. One notable initiative is our “Kanta to the World” project, a touring pop-up campaign throughout Europe, starting in London and Amsterdam. This innovative platform provides a unique opportunity for Kantamanto upcyclers to showcase their talent and connect with consumers in the Global North. By featuring upcycled creations transported through suitcase trade, this initiative tackles critical themes such as labour, waste colonialism, accessibility, and sustainability. It not only celebrates the remarkable skills of these upcycling heroes but also underscores their role in transforming our waste into, highly valuable one-of-a-kind garments.

– Made by the Global South with the Global North’s waste –

Wat is er anders/nieuw aan jouw idee/oplossing t.o.v. bestaande oplossingen? / What is different/new about your idea/solution compared to existing solutions??

For the past few decades, the Kantamanto market has primarily received discarded garments from the Global North. However, Kantamanto Social Club aims to challenge this hierarchical dynamic by repositioning Ghanaian receivers and building a bridge back to the Global North, fostering a two-way conversation.

While upcycling has gained popularity in recent years as a trendy activity, the creatives and second-hand retailers of the Kantamanto market have been practising upcycling for decades out of necessity, urgency, and innovation.

Kantamanto Social Club is dedicated to showcasing to the world the immense creativity, beauty, and resilience that emanate from Kantamanto market. Due to the staggering increase in quantity and decline in quality of clothes, the OR Foundation estimates that the Kantamanto community spends $325 million USD annually on bales, with $182 million USD paid to Global North exporters in 2020. Despite this, the average retailer faces minimal profits as they must allocate resources to repair, wash, and upcycle the received clothing, all while covering sanitation fees for waste management. By organizing pop-up events and establishing connections with retailers and consumers in Europe, Kantamanto Social Club not only provides a new market for these upcyclers but also offers Global North consumers an opportunity to embrace responsibility and actively campaign against Waste Colonialism.

The essence of the community is deeply ingrained in the infrastructure of Kantamanto Social Club, with practices such as suitcase trade that help avoid unnecessary shipping.

Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?

  • Strategize and model the touring pop-ups, to be replicated in different cities around Europe, the UK and eventually the US.
  • Raise awareness about the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy, which encompasses around 400 policies worldwide, with only one specifically addressing textiles
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing and promotion strategy to create awareness and generate interest in the pop-up event. Utilise various channels such as social media, influencer collaborations, local press, and community outreach to maximize reach and engagement. Highlight the unique stories, craftsmanship, and sustainability aspects of the upcycled garments to attract attention and build a strong brand identity.
  • Forge strategic partnerships with local upcyclers, logistical partners, global retailers, and community stakeholders in the target cities. Collaborate with fashion industry influencers, sustainability advocates, and relevant NGOs to amplify the impact of the initiative and leverage their networks to reach a wider audience.Increase demand of non-virgin material garments

Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?

  • Large retail partners that uphold ESG standards and have influence and reach to consumers.
  • A logistical system to ship large quantities of upcycled garments to the North without unacesarry shipping (i.e a suitcase trade platform)