Empowering the West African Shea Industry

The Global Shea Alliance is leading the way to develop and support African national multi-stakeholder associations to leverage public and private resources and improve the competitiveness and sustainability of their industries.

Through grants from USAID and the Dutch development organization ICCO, the GSA has supported national associations in Ghana, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast to improve the quality of shea kernels, link women’s groups to buyers, establish Secretariats, increase membership, and hold annual conferences. 

The associations are off to a flying start: since 2013, they have trained over 51,000 women shea collectors on best practices in quality processing and storage of shea kernels. Over 28,000 women belonging to 880 women’s groups have also been linked with buyers and have signed contracts for approximately 1,945 MT of shea kernels. 

Under the ICCO grant, with the help of the GSA, Shea Network Ghana (SNG) began operations in 2012. In the last three years, SNG’s membership has grown to include 65 NGOs and shea suppliers, brands and retailers based in Ghana as well as 219 women’s cooperatives. SNG has trained over 20,000 women in best practices for quality shea processing, and has organized two annual conferences benefitting Ghanaian stakeholders in the shea industry. In 2014, SNG co-hosted the GSA’s inaugural African Cosmetics Exhibition, where it helped support 41 vendors exhibiting products for over 500 visitors.

Association Karité Bénin (AKB) has also had numerous successes. Since its inauguration in 2013, its membership has swelled to include 236 shea stakeholders in Benin including women’s groups, shea suppliers, brands and retailers, and local NGOs. AKB has trained over 24,000 in best practices for quality shea processing, and hosted three national shea conferences focused on sustainable development of the industry. The Beninese national association has directly linked over 25 women’s groups to large oil and fats companies based in Benin. With the help of AKB, these women have sold 68,435 kg of shea kernels.

Mary, a woman shea collector in Gurunshie Zongo, a community in the East Gonja District that has benefitted from ICCO-supported and SNG-led trainings, said, “more money from trainings and working with buyers has helped many families pay for health insurance premiums.”

Through the help of USAID, ICCO and the GSA, women across Ghana, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast have greater knowledge of the shea industry and higher incomes.