There is evidence that Cleopatra or Nefertiti, queens of ancient Egypt thousands of years ago, attributed their great beauty to the use of Shea Butter and its use extends to the present day in the best cosmetic formulas.
The elaboration process is still intact and is inherited from mothers to daughters. It is prepared from the fruits of a sacred tree called Karité. This tree grows wild in a 5,000 km strip of savannah in West Africa and its harvesting is done only by women following an ancestral ritual. This type of artisanal and local production, managed by women's cooperatives, is the engine of the economy and the livelihood of thousands of families in the so-called "Shea Strip".
The collection of shea fruits and the elaboration of Shea Butter and Black Soap is a lever for the reduction of poverty in the producing areas and for the empowerment of women who receive a fair remuneration for a job well done.
It confirms a growing trend in the demand for shea butter for food uses to replace other less healthy oils, such as palm oil.
" This growth must be accompanied by measures that allow women to actually produce more and better, using current technology and appropriate machinery to avoid being displaced or relegated only to the first step, the collection of fruits for 1$ a day. - says Carmen Navarro, Director of Maison Karité and member of the Global Shea Alliance since 2015. It would be desirable that women's cooperatives lead new projects to accommodate their production to the growing demand and be beneficiaries of wealth sharing".
This female empowerment benefits society as a whole. It boosts related sectors such as transport, logistics, construction and new investments in transformation processes and services that require a high level of technification, such as the fractioning or refining industry that used to be carried out in client countries but can now be carried out in Africa with the consequent increase in employment and improvement in family income.
The shea economy and the work of women's cooperatives monetizes natural resources of the savannah, positively influences the conservation of the shea parks, ecosystems and the changes and challenges presented by climate change and demographic increase.
Where there is shea there is life.
With our special thanks to the authorities and the women's cooperative in Banayele, Ghana, who welcomed us and attended to our questions and suggestions with patience, kindness and affection.