Shea Business Empowerment Programme to create over 72,000 jobs

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By Samuel SAM

The Shea Business Empowerment Programme (SBEP) is set to create over 72,000 jobs for youth and women in the shea industry of Northern Ghana. The programme’s launch was held in Tamale, the Northern Region capital.

Implemented by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) in collaboration with various partners, the SBEP aims to transform the informal work of women collectors and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the shea value chain.

The initiative targets 90,000 women, including 30,000 youth, over three years from January 2022 to December 2024. The US$5.74million project is designed to boost rural and economic growth in the shea sector.

Funding for the SBEP comes from MasterCard Foundation and other partners – such as Women for Change, SoftTribe, Advans Ghana, Agrocenta and the University for Development Studies (UDS).

The project focuses on empowering cooperatives and SMEs with business coaching and entrepreneurial skills, facilitating access to capital and markets, and leveraging digital technologies for traceability and market linkages.

As part of the initiative 370 tricycles have been provided to enhance effective and efficient shea collection, thus increasing productivity and the volume of shea products.

Additionally, 24,498 women cooperatives have received pricing information and training on best processing practices, enabling them to negotiate for higher prices with private buyers.

Child educational centres have also been established to provide safe, early education for young children; optimising working hours for women shea collectors and processors.

Speaking at the forum, Aaron Adu – Executive Director-GSA – highlighted the organisation’s efforts to restore over 4,000,000 hectares of shea parklands by 2030. He emphasised the programme’s three pillars: increased aggregation and financial inclusion; formalising women-led cooperatives to operate as small businesses; and enhancing income and market access to ease  burdens in the shea industry.

Adu also noted that GSA has created partnerships with universities to support business attachment programmes for students, providing them with work experience in the shea value chain. The organisation is committed to developing trade applications to facilitate market access and increase profits for shea businesses and cooperatives, using traceability technology to meet growing industry demands.

Acting Head of Entrepreneurship Development-MasterCard Foundation, Gottfried Odamtten-Sowah, expressed satisfaction with the programme’s impact, noting that it has empowered many youth and women in the shea industry. He commended the GSA and its partners for their collaborative efforts in ensuring quality production to meet market demands and effectively utilising funds.

Vanessa Ivy Dodoo, a beneficiary and student at UDS, shared that the support has created job opportunities and encouraged her peers to take an interest in the shea industry. She revealed that her dedication has earned an opportunity to represent Ghana in Germany for further training to enhance production.

The GSA, through public-private partnerships, will continue to promote industry sustainability, quality practices, standards and  demand for shea in both the food and cosmetics sectors.

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