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Star Shea Network- transforming lives in Ghana

The SHEA initiative uses education, technology and mircofinance to improve the incomes and living conditions of women in Northern Ghana, who pick shea nuts and proces them into shea butter.

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova
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Women form village groups and have one group owned mobile phone. They receive sms via a software tool- this is how they take orders from buyers (often international companies, like Nestle as well as cosmetic companies) who want to purchase shea butter. Women also receive information about the current market price of shea nuts/shea butter, so they don't end up in a situation where they sell the shea nuts to whatever price.
Advantages of the initiative:
- women can be connected to multiply buyers
- as women are organised they have stronger negotiating power
- women don't have to walk several kilometers with a heavy load of nuts or butter to the village market. Women often prefer to sell their products to whatever price, rather them carry them back.
- women receive training and wear protection (boots and gloves to safeguard from snake bites when harvesting)
- the network avoids several layers of intermediaries - intermediaries often manipulate and take advantage of women who are illiterate, don't have access to information and don't know what the market prices are)

More about this inspiration:

What can we take from this inspiration?
- One strong point that could be replicated is the power of the village groups and the availability of one group-owned mobile phone that is linked to a central hub.
- Linking village people to a hub of suppliers
- Building cooperatives in Caldas for growing coffee
- Building cooperatives for handicrafts

What are your thoughts?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great post, K! Loving your breakdown of what makes it so relevant to this challenge. And I'm liking that it leverages technology without requiring too much capacity or hardware. Viva hub approaches!

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Hi Meena, thanks! I like this project a lot and keep a close eye on it as it is out of the pilot phase now. The microfinancing part (where women take small loans to purhcase the equipment for the shea nuts collection) is done with Grameen and the software that handles the orders from the suppliers as well as the pushing of sms to the village phone woman is created by SAP, the company I work for. Thanks for the tweet today!