In West Africa, shea butter production is traditionally a women’s vocation. An estimated 600,000 women depend on the industry for income. To increase streams of income for women shear farmers, an American company that sources shea butter and beeswax in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) mission in Ghana, and USAID/ West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) to train Ghanaian women shea farmers in beekeeping.
The partnership project with the title “SheKeeper” is to train 1,200 Ghanaian women shea farmers in beekeeping to be able to diversify and substantially increase their income.
“This partnership with Burt’s Bees will increase private investment and demonstrate that shea collectors can profitably produce and sell beeswax, shea, and honey to meet the growing demand for these commodities. Additional private investment by Burt’s Bees will create greater economic opportunities and a better quality of life for more of the 16 million women collecting and processing shea across 21 African countries,” the USAID/Ghana Mission Director, Sharon Cromer said.
Burt’s Bees is leveraging its grant from USAID/Ghana through the Trade Hub to introduce beekeeping and create efficiencies by supporting honey, beeswax, and shea production.
The partnership will upgrade a shea processing facility outside of Tamale, Ghana, that will significantly increase its capacity to produce hand-crafted shea butter and reduce its need for firewood, improving health and safety conditions for workers and mitigating environmental impact.
According to Shannon Hess, Burt’s Bees Director of Responsible Sourcing, the USAID Burt’s Bees SheKeeper activity will foster community and commercial partnerships with shea-producing women’s groups by introducing the multi-generational practice of beekeeping.
“Beekeeping opens opportunities for greater economic empowerment of women and youth and increased biodiversity for future generations,” she expressed.
Burt’s Bees will select at least three women’s groups from within its shea supply chain to pilot this beekeeping project, providing equipment, training, and export market linkages. Burt’s Bees’ suppliers will purchase and export all shea and beeswax sourced from these groups, giving farmers a reliable and sustainable buyer.
Through this project, USAID/Ghana and the Trade Hub expect to see the value of shea and beeswax exports, including to the United States, increase by at least $1 million through 2024.
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance through an integrated approach to development, advancing accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusivity.
The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) is a USAID-funded initiative that catalyzes economic growth through co-investing with the private sector to generate new investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports from West Africa.
Burt’s Bees is a dermatologist-approved natural skincare brand, offering clean and consciously crafted lip balm, skincare, makeup, and more designed to work with skin and uplift the spirit. Formulas are over 95 percent natural origin, with responsible sourcing, recyclable packaging, and no animal testing.