Shea Butter Gifts Help Women in Ghana

lav50_000I’m on the lookout for socially responsible gifts and I’ve found a real winner with the Shea Butter Market skin care products. The recipient of the gift will feel the benefits of pure shea butter, and the benefits extend to women and children in Ghana.

Through her company, the Shea Butter Market, Gifty Serbeh-Dunn has been working to help women in rural Ghana gain access to education for themselves and their children, and develop a sustainable income through shea butter.

Many women in rural Ghana are starting to make a cash income by harvesting and processing shea for the western market. The Shea trees grow wild and the women know how to pick the fruit sustainably and prepare it for market.

GiftyWhen Gifty started the Shea Butter Market in 2003, she started working with the Tapko Widow’s Group. They worked together to figure out how much product the women would be able to produce, when they would be able to work (so that it wouldn’t interfere with the farming season and destabilize their economy), and when they would need to be paid so that they could use the money to pay for their children’s education and seed for their farms. Not all western companies take such a collaborative approach.

Gifty says, “Shea butter has become so popular now, people are ripping off the women. They think they can make quick money or take map of Ghanaadvantage of the women’s ignorance of the market. We hear stories of companies buying at good prices, and then as they order more, they keep dropping the price. Also, the companies use scales and purchase by volume. The women don’t know how the scales work. They traditionally sell the butter by the ball. So now when we buy it, the women count the balls and then we weigh it and show them how the scales work. They are learning to calculate and sell for fair market value. We are applying to CIDA to get them some training in basic numeracy, and accounting. My goal is that even if Shea Butter Market doesn’t exist, that the women have the education to stay in business, and keep their children in school. Education has given me everything I have, so I just want to give back. I know these women and I know that when they earn cash, they make sure their children go to school.

Last Christmas, there was a drought and 44 women Gifty works with lost their farm crops. They desperately needed $11 each to buy food and seed – just $11 would see them all through until the rains. Gifty, told a few people in her professional network about the drought, and in no time, 44 women (including an entire choir in Victoria) signed up to send the money. They also signed up to be friends. Because of the connection through Gifty, the Canadian women felt like they were helping out someone in their circle, so with the money they sent pictures and messages of support, and asked their new friends a very important question.

What do you think would be best for the development of your community? In gratitude for the assistance, the Tapko Widows Group answered. A Moranga co-op. Moranga is the new rage in beauty care. They can sell it in local markets and to overseas buyers. The women have been working towards co-operative farming for some time but this new plant is where they see a future. The Canadian friends were motivated by their conviction.

So this past summer, Gifty gave the women an unexpected gift from their friends in Canada. They have set up a micro-lending program and are starting the women off with $1,500, which is enough for the Tapko Widows Group to buy moranga seed and fencing for the seedlings. Their dream, shared with friends, is becoming a reality right now!

Check out the Shea Butter Market’s holiday baskets, and the new line of Moranga products at your local Choices or Capers. Or shop online at http://www.sheabuttermarket.com/

Gifty is originally from Wa, Ghana and now lives in Mill Bay, BC. Read the story about how and why Gifty started the Shea Butter Market

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