The fruit produced by the shea tree is a unique crop, the cultivation of which requires no fertilizers or pesticides. Growing in parklands and agroforestry systems in an area known as the shea belt, which stretches across western Africa, the shea tree is an important source of income for the communities that live in this area.
Women's gold from West Africa
Traditionally, it is women who collect the shea fruit and process the kernels it contains. Income earned from the crop provides women with funds to alleviate poverty and hunger, to invest in children’s education and capital to support other income-generating activities.
Since 2009, we have been working in close collaboration with shea traders as well as with women’s groups to help improve their lives and livelihoods, and to ensure good business practices throughout the supply chain.
Two parallel supply chains
AAK has been sourcing shea kernels from West Africa for more than 60 years. We use two different supply chains. In the traditional supply chain, we purchase shea from suppliers and local partners. In the Kolo Nafaso supply chain, we source directly from the women who collect and process shea kernels. Today, we engage more than 353,000 women in the Kolo Nafaso program, contributing to poverty alleviation and women empowerment.