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The United States Co-Invests in Shea Butter Supply Chain with Ghana-Based Company

  • Ghana
  • Agriculture

The Challenge:

Shea butter is an important source of livelihoods for women living in northern Ghana, and it is one of the few agricultural cash crops that is culturally allocated for women to manage. This nuance works to their advantage so women can independently oversee this revenue stream without question. Demand for shea butter is growing in the Western cosmetic market, which has led to an increase in imports of raw nuts for processing into butter. The Savannah Fruits Company (SFC) is a Ghana-based company that produces handcrafted shea butter for export, improves livelihoods for rural women by providing a stable, well-paying market outlet for raw shea nuts as well as processing shea butter at source. The company works with village-based groups of women in northern Ghana who harvest nuts in the wild and use traditional hand processing methods to convert these shea nuts into butter, while meeting European quality standards. This value-added processing means local suppliers capture a greater portion of the product’s value. In addition, the women suppliers protect the shea trees from being cut down for use as charcoal or firewood, slowing deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa. Without access to trade finance, the Savannah Fruits Company would not be able to pay its suppliers in a timely manner and the women’s groups would likely resort to selling nuts for cash on the open market to meet their immediate cash flow needs, but at a much lower price. 

“SFC is excited to help women who want a sustainable alternative income stream to be able to scale their production, and enhancing the facilities where they spend a significant amount of time is something we’re also thrilled to be a part of. By expanding the number of communities that have access to updated shea butter processing centers, women throughout Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali will be able to produce organic shea butter throughout the year rather than being limited to collecting and selling nuts seasonally.”

Sofia Durrani Head of Sustainability and CSR

Our Solution & Impact:

With dedicated Prosper Africa funding, USAID’s West Africa Trade & Investment Hub signed a co-investment partnership with Savannah Fruits Company for $1.47 million to support the export shea butter supply chain in West Africa. By investing in advanced shea processing centers in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali, SFC will help generate almost $6 million in smallholder sales and export over $8 million to SFC’s U.S. and European buyers. Thanks to this collaboration, SFC will support 15,600 Ghanaian, 5,000 Ivorian, and 400 Malian women processors and kernel collectors by training women’s groups in business management and shea collection, processing, and production practices that meet international standards, helping to create a more sustainable livelihood for the women and their communities. This investment affirms the U.S. Government’s commitment to promote women’s economic empowerment through partnerships that connect Ghanaian women producers with U.S. buyers.

“With the help of the Trade Hub, SFC will be able to modernize shea processing centers in Ghana and build new ones in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. This will generate more income for thousands of women while also decreasing the use of firewood and improving women’s working conditions and health. This is a great opportunity to increase the supply of organic handcrafted shea butter to cosmetic and food industries worldwide in a more sustainable way. ”

Raphael Gonzalez Managing Director & Co-founder, Savannah Fruits Company