SHEA BUTTER MARKET VISITS TAKPO WIDOW’S GROUP IN GHANA
On Friday July 25th, 2008 I arrived in Ghana after 4 1/2 years.
Visit to Wa/Tapko This was a very exciting and emotional trip for me. It was wonderful to find most members of the widow’s group in good health and great spirits. They are very enthusiastic about working with Shea Butter Market as we have proven our commitment to them over the years. They really enjoyed seeing what we have done with their raw shea butter and they absolutely loved the new packaging and the new products that we have created especially the Savannah Face Cream and Sun Soother.
The chief of Tapko and his wife Monica were overjoyed to see me, thanked me profusely for the good work we are doing and for our generosity to the women of Tapko. I thanked them for consistently supporting our efforts by supplying us excellent raw shea butter.
For those of you who wonder how your Shea Butter Market purchases impact the lives of the Tapko Widow’s Group you will be happy to know that in the last 4 years these women have been able to send their children to school and afford to pay for school supplies, uniforms and school fees. They are able to go to the medical clinic when they are sick and need medical attention. The women and children also now eat a more nutritious diet by being able to afford to buy meat and vegetables at the local market when their own crops fail. Shea Butter Market pays a premium price to these women for their raw shea butter. We do not bargain with them and often pay them higher than their asking price. The price we pay them is more than triple what they would get on the local market.
One of the goals I had for this trip was to formalize a micro-credit fund by engaging our partner NGO in Ghana ~ Suntaa Nuntaa to manage the fund. It was such a pleasure to do this and to give them $600 on behalf of SBM and my family from the sales of Shea Butter over the past 3 years. This micro-credit fund will enable the women to borrow money to start other projects together so that they can continue to better their lives and the lives of their children.
Suntaa Nuntaa then made a request from us. They would like to start a tree planting project around the village of Tapko. Many of the villagers are cutting down timber trees and shea trees for firewood production as that is all that is left. In order to protect these trees then something must take their place. The plan is to grow Acacia trees which grow quickly. Acacia trees grow from the stumps after the initial harvest and can be grown on sites not suitable for agriculture. The Chief of Tapko has agreed to make land available for this project but they need funds to purchase the seedlings.
and we will donate 5% of your purchases directly to this project. From September 15th to October 31, 2008
Wa Women’s Group
There are now 20 women in this group and many more lined up to join. These women were organized to assist the Tapko women when Shea Butter Market’s demand for shea butter exceeded the Tapko widow’s group capacity. Most of the Wa women are single women, a few are married and all have small children to support. Their situation is very complex in that they don’t have access to land as they live closer to the city of WA and are cash strapped. Shea Butter Market engaged the group last year and is very pleased with their work. They are enthusiastic about our partnership and would like to be eligible for the micro credit loans we set up with our NGO Suntaa Nuntaa. We agreed to do this and Suntaa Nuntaa will give them the necessary training so that they can participate. They are hoping to diversify their economic activities. As city dwellers, they are likely to engage in small scale trading.
Ideal Providence Farm
Next I visited our local Ghanaian partner ~ Ideal Providence Farm which is run by Georgina Koomson. In 2006 Georgina won the “Spirit of Organic 2006” award by New Hope Natural Media. The nominees were chosen by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
One of the best things to come out of the last year with Ideal Providence Farm is that Georgina has created yet another opportunity for the Tapko widows’ group. The group will begin to grow hibiscus tea for export to Germany. The women are engaged in growing 2 acres as a pilot project, seeds provided by Ideal Providence Farm and the land provided by the chief of Tapko. This is likely to increase to 5-10 acres in future. This is an excellent income generating activity that can be worked on when the hard work of making shea butter is done. The first harvest will be in four months time. The women are thrilled with this opportunity.