Choose amount Information Payment
A donor account is created automatically for recurring donations. Account setup info will be emailed to you.
You can log in to edit your recurring donation any time
Please fix the errors above.
CVC CodeThe 3-4 digits on the back of your credit card
Enter the Zip/Postal code for your credit card billing address
Donate from your bank using Plaid, a secure and encrypted bank transfer service.

You can log in to edit your recurring donation any time


Secondhand Solidarity Fund

Re-distribute money to the Kantamanto community in the form of crisis relief, healthcare, debt relief and market reconstruction.


Those who are on the front lines of fashion’s waste crisis are best equipped to define sustainable alternatives and build lasting solutions, but they are trapped in a debt cycle without the resources to think beyond daily survival or to put their ideas into action. 


Crisis-relief is not Justice.

Debt-relief is not the Solution. 

But relief from survival mode enables those at the front lines to take ACTION and work towards transformative solutions.

The redistribution of power and wealth is the fuel that circularity will run on.


Please donate

This Black Friday

This Earth Day

This Secondhand September 

And every day in between 

Until Kantamanto’s retailers are debt-free, kayayei are safe and Accra’s beaches are clean and regenerated as sacred spaces. 


Who is Kantamanto? 

The fashion industry produces more than we can consume and we consume more than we can use. At the end of fashion’s oversupplied linear economy is Kantamanto Market in Accra, Ghana, the largest secondhand clothing market in the world. If you have ever donated clothing to Goodwill, put your clothing in the “recycling” bin at H&M or mailed your clothing to ThredUp, there’s a good chance your garments ended up here. There are two ways to understand Kantamanto:


One, Kantamanto Market is on the front lines of fashion’s waste crisis. Every week, 15 million garments arrive from countries across the Global North and 40% leave as waste, often within one or two weeks of landing at port. This waste ends up in burn piles around the city, dumped in informal settlements where it pollutes the backyards of Accra’s most vulnerable citizens or it is washed out to sea. This waste has plunged retailers into debt, decimated the local fashion ecosystem and created an economy reliant on cheap and dangerous labor, with young women working as kayayei (head porters) literally being crushed to death by the weight of the bales they carry.



Two, Kantamanto is the most sustainable retail ecosystem in the world. This sprawling market is the largest resale and upcycling economy on our planet with 30,000 individual entrepreneurs working together to recirculate over 25 million garments a month. These garments are not recirculated in pursuit of marketing language and 2030 KPI targets, these garments are recirculated because Kantamanto is far more than a static sales environment. Kantamanto is a lab, a factory, a studio, a community center and a market all in one. Ghanaian shoppers do not come to Kantamanto hoping to find exactly what they want in their exact size, they come looking for material to customize. Sitting next to retailers are rows of tailors re-sizing garments, designers transforming lower quality clothing into luxury garments, graphic designers re-printing millions of single-use t-shirts, cobblers making one-of-a-kind shoes and thousands of people cleaning and dyeing stained clothing. Kantamanto leverages this indigenous sustainability logic to transform millions of garments that were discarded by citizens in the Global North into garments of value.



Kantamanto is the end of the line.

Kantamanto is also the beginning of the circle.


Want to learn more about Kantamanto? Start by watching this video series, reading this article, watching this panel discussion, meeting Janet or listening to this podcast


What Does Debt Have To Do With Waste?

Everything.


Retailers spend a lot of money to purchase bales of secondhand clothing, anywhere from $75 to $500 and they buy these bales blind to the quality of goods inside. They do not have the ability to return a bale if it is moldy or full of garments in unsellable condition. Our research found that less than 20% make a profit on the average bale, with most retailers taking out loans to pay off other loans. 


Most of the clothing that leaves Kantamanto as “waste” may not be high quality, but it is wearable in the most basic of senses. Clothing leaves Kantamanto as waste because fossil fuel fast fashion has turned clothing into a disposable commodity, thereby driving down the value so much that secondhand retailers no longer make enough money to invest in the rehabilitation of lower quality items through washing, mending or tailoring. Retailers have to pay rent to store the clothing that they cannot sell and at some point they can no longer afford to keep the clothing lying around taking up space in their stalls. 


With debts to pay off retailers must send unsold clothing to “The Away” (burn piles and the ocean), while they continue to gamble on the next bale, hoping that it will yield enough high quality garments for them to pay off past bales. Such hopes are rarely realized.


When we say that Kantamanto is on the front lines of fashion’s waste crisis, we mean that everyone working in Kantamanto exists in a constant state of crisis, laboring in survival mode. The more debt, the more waste. 


Debt relief is key to ensuring that Kantamanto as a model of circularity can continue to resist the advancing frontier of disposable fashion. Debt relief is not where the work ends, but these funds allow retailers, tailors and kayayei the headspace to work towards long term solutions including new business models.


Who Is The Or Foundation?

We are a Ghana and USA registered not-for-profit organization working at the intersection of environmental justice, education and fashion development. We have been working between the two countries for over a decade and have been working in solidarity with the Kantamanto ecosystem since 2016. Together with a coalition of retailers, tailors, kayayei, designers, doctors, scientists, government officials, waste professionals and other organizations we are working hard to catalyze a Justice-led Circular Fiber and Fashion Economy in Accra. While crisis and debt relief is not what justice looks like, these efforts are necessary to set the foundation for the paradigm shift we are working towards.


We are a team of eleven (meet us here) and as a team we have always redistributed a percentage of our operating budget to the Kantamanto community as well as speaking, consulting and publishing fees. With this page we are making this internal policy more transparent and asking that you join us.


What Is The Goal?

We are facilitating the Secondhand Solidarity Fund in service of two goals.

 

  1. Redistribute funds to individuals who physically, culturally, psychologically and financially carry the burden of Big Fashion’s waste crisis. We receive an average of eight requests a week seeking support on this level. Sometimes this looks like a retailer who bought a bad bale full of waste that she cannot return, leaving her worried about putting food on the table and unsure about how she will afford the $2 trotro ride (bus) that’s necessary for her to get to work so she can try to sell her way out of debt. Other times this looks like paying hospital bills for a kayayo who was run over by a car while sleeping on the street because she did not earn enough to pay rent that week. 


  1. Reserve funds for community wide crises such as a market fire, demolition, cholera outbreak or outbreaks of sexual violence. Since March of 2020 we have collected and redistributed over $40,000 in crisis relief funds. This includes supporting food for over 18,000 women working as kayayei (see report here), providing crisis relief to nearly 200 retailers and tailors after the devastating Christmas fire (see report here) and upfitting several market aisles to be flood resistant. While our community has graciously rallied (thank YOU) during these moments of crisis, we have learned that we need to act faster to be most effective during these emergencies and we are confident that the number of crises will increase over the coming years. Responding effectively will require having cash on hand for this purpose. 


No amount is too small. A kayayo earns US $0.30 per trip, so a donation of $5 is enough to give her a day of rest. One day away from backbreaking labor isn’t justice but it’s a form of relief that is urgently needed


Our target is to raise a minimum of US $250,000 between Black Friday 2021 and Black Friday 2022, and to keep this fund topped up on an annual basis. This is nowhere near the debt burden carried by Kantamanto retailers, which we believe to be over US $5 million, but it is a meaningful start. We have begun the campaign by including the $22,184 collected through our Fire Relief GoFundMe, which is now closed, and we will also add contributions made via publishing and speaking fees as our agreements allow us to publicize those amounts.


What is Solidarity & Why Is My Donation Important?

Solidarity requires prioritizing the interests of those who are made most vulnerable by an exploitative system. When it comes to our work with Kantamanto retailers, tailors and kayayei solidarity looks like:


  1. Ensuring that basic needs such as food, water and housing are met

  2. Empowering retailers, tailors and kayayei with the tools to imagine and articulate an alternative system

  3. Working alongside the Kantamanto community to manifest their vision. 


The Kantamanto community is not only vulnerable, they are invisible. The average Global North citizen hasn’t a clue that their clothing donations will likely be exported to the Global South. Even fewer people know that Kantamanto retailers pay for the clothing. A lack of transparency, absolutely no traceability, layers of colonial mythology and a whole lot of willful ignorance has kept the secondhand supply chain out of sight and out of mind for people in the Global North.


Donating to the Secondhand Solidarity Fund sends a tangible message to the Kantamanto community that they are no longer invisible. 


Donating to the Secondhand Solidarity Fund also accounts for inequality built into the sustainability movement. 


Are you a resale platform or a charity funded by clothing resale? Are you a clothing collector, aggregator, sorter, broker or exporter in the Global North? Are you reselling clothing via your own store or platforms like Depop, ThredUp, The RealReal or Vestiaire? Please donate. 


With privileged consumers in the Global North donating their old clothing so they can buy new clothing, the secondhand economy enables continued overproduction and overconsumption. Buying and selling secondhand clothing is an important step to reversing this pattern but it is far from enough. Risk and reward are not evenly distributed across the secondhand economy. Lower quality clothing is passed around like a hot potato. The clothing that charities like Goodwill cannot sell gets passed on to Kantamanto. The clothing that resale platforms like ThredUp cannot sell gets passed on to Kantamanto. Depop sellers can scan the racks of their local thrift stores to find trending items that they know they can flip. Meanwhile, Kantamanto retailers buy millions of garments a year sight unseen and are left with no outlet for the items they cannot sell. Instead, they must absorb the debts of the entire industry. This chokes their ability to discover new methods of upcycling or alternative business opportunities, and it leaves many people - mostly women - in a situation of food scarcity amid heaps of clothing waste.


Have you asked our team to contribute knowledge to your book, article, blog post, course or documentary? Have you asked our team to connect you with members of the Kantamanto community? Are you using our research, work or images to further your professional goals? Are you using Kantamanto as a case study to catalyze change in your business, city or country? Please donate. 


Awareness raising is important, but it is far from enough. One of the reasons our team re-distributes all speaking, publishing or consulting fees to the Kantamanto community (instead of funding our internal organizational operations with these activities) is because our knowledge is borrowed from the Kantamanto community. We already benefit unjustly from our work with the Kantamanto community. Our accumulated privilege allows us to garner relevance within the global attention economy, gain approval from the sustainability industry and be cited by global news agencies. We can post a story about Kantamanto on Instagram and receive notes of gratitude and praise in return, while the people living and breathing the Instagram post in real life never hear a “thank you for sharing” or “keep up the good work”. This has nothing to do with intentions. This has to do with the systems of oppression within which the secondhand trade exists. We are not accountable to our Instagram following or to your media outlet, we are accountable to the Kantamanto community. The least we can do is acknowledge our privilege and redistribute what we can. To do this we will hold people of similar privilege  accountable to the same ethics we apply within our organization. There’s nothing wrong with raising awareness but without tangible results, awareness is raised at the expense of the Kantamanto community. 


Donating to the Secondhand Solidarity Fund takes us one step closer to a sustainability movement where the Kantamanto community and other too often invisible communities can not only advocate for themselves but can lead the way.


Please donate

This Black Friday

This Earth Day

This Secondhand September 

And every day in between 

Until Kantamanto’s retailers are debt-free, kayayei are safe and Accra’s beaches are regenerated. 


The redistribution of power and wealth is the fuel that circularity will run on.


----

Please reach out to [email protected] if you would like to commit a percentage of your sales or run a campaign in support of the Secondhand Solidarity Fund. 


This fund is strictly for redistributing money to the Kantamanto community in the form of direct transfers. This fund functions separately from any campaign related to our specific programs such as the No More Fast Fashion Lab or the Kayayei Chiropractic Research & Treatment Program. If you wish to support those programs please reach out to [email protected]