The MasterCard Foundation, in conjunction with the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), has launched a Shea Business Empowerment Programme (SBEP) to help transform and introduce innovative ideas into the shea value chain in the country.
The project is aimed at facilitating access to finance for cooperatives, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), provide business coaching and entrepreneurship support, and to leverage digital technologies to enhance traceability and market linkages in the shea value chain.
The $5.7 million programme seeks to create about 90,000 job opportunities for women shea collectors, processors, cooperatives, and SMEs in the northern part of the country by addressing key barriers in the value chain.
Additionally, it would support 150 shea cooperatives and 300 SMEs to improve on their business capacities, to access financial products, and tackle gender-related barriers such as lack of access to childcare for women in the shea value chain.
The three-year intervention would be implemented by a consortium of organisations, including Nuts for Growth Advans Ghana, Women for Change, Agrocenta and Softribe.
At the launch of the project in Tamale, the Country Head of the MasterCard Foundation, Rosy Fynn, indicated that the programme would introduce innovations into collection, processing, and marketing of shea products to increase the economic benefits for the various actors, particularly women.
She said the shea value chain in the country was dominated by women, and presented a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty and address system barriers that limited young women in the sector from reaching their full economic and social potential.
“Through this partnership, we are fostering collaboration among experienced ecosystem actors to strengthen the shea value chain and encourage women to transition their informal ventures into viable and sustainable business enterprises, which will automatically create a positive effect in their families and communities,” Ms Fynn noted.
The Managing Director of the GSA, Aaron Adu, said aside from the financial and technical support to the women, the SBEP presented shea as an attractive business venture for students by connecting them with cooperatives to get deeper understanding of the value chain and opportunities within.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in a speech read on his behalf, commended the Mastercard Foundation, GSA and their partners for the initiative, and said its elements aligned with government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
"It is very commendable how forward-thinking this element of the project is because while it ensures the best grade quality of shea butter and nuts produced, it increases employment for more production, securing a spot for Ghana on the map as one of the best countries to produce the best quality of shea butter for both food and cosmetics,” he noted.
The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Alhassan Shani Saibu, lauded the SBEP implementing organisations and their partners for the intervention, saying it would improve on the livelihoods of women in the shea value chain in northern Ghana.