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Improving rural livelihoods through shea butter businesses – a case of women in markets in northern Ghana

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E. Banye
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Although a traditional activity for which women have indigenous skills, shea butter processing can be industrialised, for which sophisticated skills and expertise is required. The more butter processing becomes mechanised, the higher the risk of rural women being excluded from the process and the benefits.
In recognition of these challenges, SNV approached Sundial Brands, a health and beauty manufacturer, to partner with the women’s cooperatives to address these challenges. Sundial Brands, and its local partner Savanna Fruit Company developed an agreement with SNV and women shea cooperatives to address these challenges while providing a ready market for their shea butter.
The new role that women assume in providing for their families is also changing gender norms and perceptions. Positive acceptance of women in business is facilitating gender transformation in a culturally acceptable way. The research concluded that shea is a high value global commodity and that a better understanding of the global value chain will help more value distribution to women processors.