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USAID and Shea Alliance put together $13 million for 16 million women shea processors and collectors



The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with private operators in the shea nut industry around the world have joined forces to promote and improve benefits in shea-nut producing communities, especially for the 16 million women who collect and process shea.

The Global Shea Alliance and the USAID are implementing a five-year $13 million Sustainable Shea Initiative (SSI) project in seven countries. The countries are: Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Speaking at the press launch in Tamale, the president of Global Shea Alliance (GSA), Mr. Konate Moumouni said the GSA is working with brand suppliers, NGOs, USAID and other donors to provide critical support for shea communities.

Twenty-five private sector organizations contributed $6.5 while USIAD is also providing $6.5 for the implementation of the project to be carried out by about 250 women in shea cooperatives in promotional and sustainability activities.

The GSA, according to Mr. Moumouni, will construct 250 warehouses for women’s groups, and support 137,000 women shea collectors and processors with cooperative development and business skills training.

The project will also improve Women shea collectors and processors’ health and safety, conserve projects in shea communities, host international conferences and exhibitions in Africa, Europe and US and undertake research projects to demonstrate the benefits of shea in food and cosmetics.

The USAID West Africa Director for Economic Growth, Dr. Mary Hobbs said the GSA multi-stakeholder approach has shown that what is good for women shea collectors is good for business.

Dr. Hobbs emphasized the need for stakeholders to find solutions that make business sense in order for the shea industry to be sustainable.

The only way to address poverty and malnutrition, she said was to improve the livelihoods of the communities and link producers to markets to improve the share of market returns from their labor.

Marketing and communications, despite growth in the use of shea in both the cosmetics and the food industries, the culinary and health benefits of using shea are still not widely understood by the potential end user, Dr. Hobbs observed.

Another challenge she noted, was the disorganized and fragmented nature of shea supply chains in Africa which leads to shea nut collectors, mostly women rarely marketing their product collectively, thus resulting in the reduction of their incomes.

The GSA-SSI, Dr. Hobbs said, will facilitate 440,000 tons of shea exports annually with a value of $132 million and is expected to increase the income of shea collectors by over $3. 5million.

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