Diary Ghana: In search of shea butter from clear origin

Welcome to a journey through my diary. Learn what were the first steps in the search for the traditional plant butter "shea butter" (also known as "beurre de karité") from clear origin. It is a journey with many surprises, learnings, joys, setbacks and insights.


Streets Accras 2018 (picture left) North Ghana 2019 (picture right).

Since I got to know Sheabutter got to know better (thank you sunburn!) and took a closer look at this plant butter, I am of its effect, production and history fascinated. Admittedly, I have been fascinated by natural raw materials since I completed my training as a farmer's wife because since then I make my own cosmetics with herbs, oils and waxes. And now a butter! A plant butter with a history! A story that has many parallels with the herbal stories I know from Switzerland. Thanks to the convent women and teachers in my farmer's education!

In the capital Accra with a friend at the photo shoot prepare 2018.

1st research stop: fire station

So we are standing in front of THE fire station, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the million metropolis Accra. It is morning, but the hot West African sun is already showing its fullness. By phone we are directed to a fire station. We search the streets without success.

Far and wide the destination is not in sight. But our phone rings again. We are to go to the "Trade Fair". Again we flag down a cab and negotiate the price. Arrived at the "Trade Fair", another call: "Just go to the firestation". Isn't that where we just came from!?

Last but not least, we actually reach the destination. A small house with a shea store stands in front of us. And behind the house, lo and behold, actually another fire station. But another one than the one we had located before :-)

The Shea store is a small production and sales place of handmade shea butter products. The team of the manufactory is committed to ethical working conditions of producers in the north of the country. The daughter of the owner shows us the different products. The pure natural shea butter smells great but the exact place of origin can not be determined even after repeated inquiries. It seems to vary. The research continues!

2nd research stop: Global Mamas

Sweating from the tropical heat (straight from the Swiss winter) we continue along the streets of Accra. Our next stop: Global Mamas store in a "hip" district. We are lucky, because we meet the owner of the store and the fairtrade organization of the same name. Also in the Global Mamas Shop there is a nice assortment of shea butter products. The owner has over ten years of experience with the trade of shea butter. She shows me the challenges, tells me about her personal experiences with different cooperatives and partners and gives me answers to many of my questions. The conversation proved to be very helpful and my knowledge about the shea business expanded a bit again. Let's move on!

Accra, 2017

"Chop Bar" lunch break

The clock hand is already at 2pm, urgently time for a lunch break at a "Chop Bar". A "Chop Bar" is a traditional eatery as often encountered in southern Ghana. The food is usually served in bowls and eaten by hand. Once "Jollof Rice" and once "Fufu with soup" is on our menu. In the large covered room there is a pleasant breeze and nice music sounds from the large speaker boxes. The food tastes excellent and a break for refreshment was much needed.

Trip in the north of Ghana 2019 (picture on the left). Working situation brainstorming in Accra, 2019 (picture right).

3rd research stop: Beauty Entrepreneur.

Strengthened, we move on to our next meeting. This one takes place in an air-conditioned fitness center. We are warmly welcomed by the founder of the manufactory and her mother. The natural cosmetics production was launched in 2014. All this with natural raw materials from the north of Ghana. A real beauty safari for the skin and at the same time for the nose. Each individual product is based on a story of ancient traditions of Ghana. Old tried and tested often proves itself anew today. The owner tells us a lot from the vastness of the north, from the women in the cooperatives, the shea butter production, the ant hills, the beehives and the baobabs.

She also highlights the cultural differences between southern and northern Ghana. For her, as a Ghanaian from the south, a whole "different world" opens up in the north of the country. To coordinate her business in the north well, she is supported by a trusted local person.

"It also shows the cultural differences between the south and north of Ghana."

Lunch time in northern Ghana 2019

SHEA YEAH Products 2019

Interaction with different people is essential. With every conversation, you learn something. A few more research tours in Accra and the north of the country followed. An important milestone and absolute highlight was the Shea Conference of the Global Shea Alliance which I was allowed to attend in 2019. Yes, the journey continues...

Sandra

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