Kikele women group
The first time I met the women groups I was very nervous, I did not know what to expect and Abdala my partner in Benin told me that they were very excited and eager to meet me. I was very excited about meeting them too but I was also anxious, I wanted to make a good impression and be clear with them about why I was there and the kind of partnership I wanted to build with them.
When I met the women I told them my dreams and aspirations for them and for our partnership, my speech was centred on five key points.
1. What I knew about the industry through my research, I told them that the shea butter business was very lucrative and could be used as a tool for empowering women. I told them that through the sale of shea butter many women groups and cooperatives in countries like Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali have made a better life for them selves, their communities and that it was possible for them too.
2. I discussed what I wanted our partnership to be, I told them about my aspirations, that I wanted sell their shea butter and try to build a sustainable business model that would create work for years to come. I told them about my dream of creating a business for good, that would not only be about the creation of wealthy but about empowering women and the community, a social business that would take their needs in consideration and help out with the pressing issues amongst them and in the wider community.
3. I talked about the importance of the work that they were doing, that the knowledge of producing shea butter in the traditional way needed to be safeguarded and the way to do that is by them continuing to work with shea butter production and earning good money whilst doing it.
4. I told them that I knew that their shea butter was of the highest quality because we had the proof of the lab results and that I wanted the world to see that shea butter from Benin is just as good as shea butter from Ghana or any other West African country and to get buyers interested in buying from them.
5. And finally I told them that in the future I want to build a production facility, which will help them produce bigger quantities faster and make the work easier for them.
This was in September 2015 and we are on the journey to realising each and single one of these points, it will not happen over night but as we keep working on it we will get closer to our goals of empowering women and making them financially stable.
Bassila women’s group (sorry – image is a bit blurry)
Where we are today in our mission of empowering women
Last week Abdala was with both groups producing a very large batch of shea butter, it will get here very soon and the shop will open in a few weeks. The women have already seen the positive effects of our partnership. When we paid them for their work the women group in Bassila said that they’ve never earned that much money for their shea butter and Abdala said that the joy was tremendous. I would have given everything to be there to celebrate with them but this is a small step forward, now we need you to support us and try our shea butter! Sign up to the newsletter and you’ll get a notification for when the shop is open.
The opportunity for empowering women economically and socially through the sale of shea butter is very feasible, we know this is a good route to prosperity as the very same industry has been supporting communities in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali for years.
Working directly with the women, removing middle hands and traders will:
– Help create fairer returns and give them bargaining power.
– Improve occupational health and safety by providing them with training, better equipment and improved tools.
– Through the sale of shea butter we will be able to purchase better equipment and improve processing and profitability.
– Empower the community through access to education, environmental programmes and other activities.
My goal is to help create prosperity in these communities through ethical, fair and sustainable trade, I want to realise the possibilities that are present, I know it is possible and I want you to join us in our journey. To learn more about our cause and our work please visit our impact page.
If you have any questions about our work please send me an email at [email protected] or leave a comment!
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