Responsible shea sourcing

through Women in Shea (WISH)

Empowering women through better solutions for chocolate

Supplying the chocolate and confectionery market with sustainable solutions has been a focus area for AAK during many years and remains a key driver for new projects aiming at making better happen together with our customers.

During 2021, we joined forces with Mars and several leading NGOs to explore how we together can make an even stronger sustainable foundation for responsible shea sourcing. Building on our already successful Kolo Nafaso program, the initiative resulted in a project called Women in Shea (WISH).

Co-developing for more sustainable sourcing of shea

The co-development opportunity started in 2019 when AAK approached Mars in the USA to better understand how our Kolo Nafaso shea sustainability program could potentially create value for Mars’s business.

“This opportunity took shape after Mars recognized the strategic alignment between our Kolo Nafaso program and its own global ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ plan”, says Adriano Barrichello, Strategic Account Manager at AAK.

Subsequently, an ideation workshop was held in Ghana together with additional stakeholders to find the sweet spot for a business opportunity. With the passionate commitment for responsible and sustainable sourcing presented by the people involved in the scoping of the project, Mars was inspired to go further with the project.

AAK’s primary role in the WISH project is to work with women from more than 150 communities in East Gonja to ensure a sustainable high-quality shea kernel supply. A key step has been the creation stage focusing on the optimization of the collection of shea kernels, as well as scaling the savings program for the women involved.

Working towards a mutual goal

Mars buys the cocoa butter equivalents that AAK produces from the shea kernels sourced through the WISH project, and in doing so, the project becomes sustainable also from an economic standpoint.

After a few years of conversations, the partnership is now a reality, covering multi-functional involvement across the different partners.

This opportunity has turned into a ten-year partnership to improve the living standards of 13,000 women in northern Ghana, preserve the wild-growing shea trees, and meet the growing market demand for high-quality shea kernels.

“We believe that our brands’ success must be aligned with that of our partners and communities. We are proud to now come together to launch a large-scale shea sourcing initiative in Ghana to bring benefits to women who live in a particularly fragile ecosystem”, says Victoria Mars, Chairman of the Board for Mars Incorporated.