The Mastercard Foundation, Global Shea Alliance (GSA), and a consortium of partners, today announced the launch of the Shea Business Empowerment Program (SBEP) to help transform and introduce innovation in the shea value chain in Ghana.
The three-year, $5.7 million program will create 90,000 dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for women shea collectors, processors, cooperatives, and SMEs in Ghana by addressing key barriers in the value chain that will unlock the significant earning potential of value chain actors, including collectors, cooperatives, and SMEs. Working with Nuts for Growth, and other partners, including Advans Ghana, Women for Change, Agrocenta, Softribe, as well as GSA’s sustainability partners, the program will facilitate access to finance for cooperatives and SMEs, provide business coaching and entrepreneurship support, and leverage digital technologies to enhance traceability and market linkages.
Additionally, the program will support 150 shea cooperatives and 300 SMEs in Ghana to improve their business capacity, access financial products, and tackle gender related barriers such as lack of access to childcare for women in the shea value chain.
Shea production in Northern Ghana
Shea is traditionally a hand collected commodity. Between May and August each year, 16 million rural women farmers collect the fallen fruit from shea parklands across Africa. The work is hard and laborious, with women walking several miles in hot and humid conditions to collect them. The shea trees used to grow within communities, but those trees are now limited due to growing rural populations. The shea kernels are often hand processed into butter and used within households, with excesses sold on the market.
The SBEP program will introduce innovation into the collection, processing, and marketing of shea products to increase the economic benefits value chain actors, especially women, derive from the sector.
Speaking about the program, the President of the GSA, Simballa Sylla said, “This collaboration introduces important elements, including the childcare program to unburden women collectors in rural Northern Ghana. It also presents shea as an attractive business venture for students, by connecting them with cooperatives to get a deeper understanding of the value chain and opportunities within it for young people. This collaboration highlights industry’s commitment and dedication to the success of women’s cooperatives and SMEs in the Ghanaian shea sector and industry at large.”
The SBEP program aligns with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy in Ghana, which focuses on deepening efforts in the agriculture and agriculture adjacent sector, to unlock dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for young Ghanaians, especially women.
Speaking at the Launch, the Ghana Country Head at the Mastercard Foundation, Rosy Fynn, said, “The shea value chain in Ghana is dominated by women and presents a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty and address system barriers that limit young women in the sector from reaching their full economic and social potential. Through this partnership we are fostering collaboration among experienced ecosystem actors to strengthen the value chain and encourage women to transition their informal ventures into viable and sustainable business enterprises, which will automatically create a positive ripple effect in their families and communities.”
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