Capitalizing on shea butter’s global popularity, UNDP and Japan have teamed up to bolster female entrepreneurs in Ghana and strengthen the African country’s economy by increasing production of the nut-based fat.
The UNDP-Japan project aims to provide Ghanaian women with the self-confidence to distribute and sell the popular butter -- a project which the local women said has increased shea butter sales, boosted their take-home income and raised the standard of living in their households.
Titled “Empowering Rural Women and Alleviating Poverty by Strengthening the Local Shea Butter Industry in Northern Ghana,” the partnership has proved a valuable resource for local women and has increased the quality of life for many Ghanaian families.
Because of the shea butter project, the Ghanaian entrepreneurs have learnt to work in groups and acquired skills to improve their productivity. They added that they are happy because the training center also serves as an evening adult school, and that the skills have enabled them to participate better in at-home decision making.
Mrs. Adisa Lansah Yakubu, the Executive Director of Africa 2000 Network, UNDP’s implementing partner on this project, said shea butter production has typically been a profession for females. It is her hope that with the Japan-UNDP support and intervention and additional support from government, shea butter production will witness new heights as a foreign exchange earner for Ghana.
Traditionally used as a cooking fat in African homes, shea butter has gained global popularity in the chocolate industry, as a substitute for cocoa butter, and in the cosmetics field, as an ingredient in moisturizers.
Japan’s Ambassador to the African Union and Ethiopia, Mr. Kinichi Komano has also thrown his weight behind the project. While visiting one of the project sites at Sagnarigu in the Tamale Metropolis July 12, Ambassador Komano underlined the importance of the project and said he wished that Ghanaian and Japanese business firms would come together to exchange experiences and create awareness of the shea butter enterprise.