Shea

Women's gold from West Africa

Better sourcing of shea

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.

Shea progress updates

We continuously publish updates on our shea supply chains and the latest sustainability initiatives that we are engaged in. Explore our latest update and our archive

Commitments and ambitions

Traditional supply chain

  • Minimum 95 percent traceability to district level every season
  • 100 percent of suppliers trained by 2025
  • 150,000 trees planned in West Africa by 2025

Kolo Nafaso supply chain

  • Continuously increase impact on women livelihoods
  • Yearly verification of Kolo Nafaso principles and claims
  • 6,500 people reached with clean water by 2025

Key achievements 2021

Traditional supply chain

  • 100 percent traceability to district level achieved
  • Supplier engagement strengthened
  • More than 46,000 additional shea trees planted, bringing the total number of trees since 2019 to 83,000

Kolo Nafaso supply chain

  • 7,365 additional women reached, bringing the total number of women enrolled to more than 353,000  
  • Full verification audit completed
  • The clean water partnership with Saha Global funded the first three water treatment units, reaching 934 people 

Questions about our sustainability work?