The results speak for themselves. Clearly the conceptual shift from functional vessels to expressive decorative pieces happened quite easily for the weavers: in Bolgatanga, the baskets evolved quickly from traditional forms to complex free-form sculptures - which, importantly, are harder to copy.
In Zimbabwe, new forms were developed by weaving over moulds to create wave-like shapes. Less visibly, a new technique was devised, interspersing regular stitches with knots so that the products were finished faster and consumed significantly less material.
In Ethiopia, the weavers learnt to work off a grid, making it possible to work from patterns, and so, for the first time, standardisation became possible. This resulted in vast improvements in quality control, from sizing to colour and design.
In all three projects, weaving enhanced entry into a cash economy, and the empowerment for women in these patriarchal societies was tremendous. Still, little could have been more ambitious than the journey 25 weavers from each country made to the design institute in Ahmedabad for a skills workshop.
As Tstsi Nyabando, a weaver from Zimbabwe's Honde Valley, says, "Before the workshops we thought inside the box, but afterwards, we were thinking outside - so we could modify our products and make new items.
"We all see and think differently now. After the visit to India, we realised that quantity is not the answer. We look at quality and what appeals to a customer."
The real measure of design's power to change lives, however, is economic. "Previously I earned $1 [about R13] for my baskets," says Nyabando. "Now I earn $5."
Says Potter: "Before we began I was concerned the results might be beautifully made Indian products! But, as can be seen from the final products, [ the team from the design institute] showed great sensitivity in absorbing local design ethics - they have retained a strong sense of their place of origin."
Skills can be adapted by the weavers, who have a much better idea of their own capabilities and materials.
"Personal growth for the weavers, and I have to say for me too, has been huge. This was largely possible because the programme was not treated as a box-ticking exercise, but implemented with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness and an academic rigour. And so, a somewhat surreal passage to and from India proved an enriching journey that will continue to unravel on a number of levels."