Empowering Rural Women and Alleviating Poverty by Strengthening the Local Shea Butter Industry


More than 600,000 women in Northern Ghana depend on incomes from the sales of shea butter and other shea-related products as a means of their daily sustenance. In addition to its importance as a key income source for rural women, shea butter production can significantly contribute to increasing the possibility of the income generated being used for improvement of living standards of local women and their households. Further, shea butter has the potential of evolving into a viable export industry since private businesses in several countries have been expressing their interest in importing shea butter. In this backdrop, UNDP Ghana in collaboration with partner agencies has developed a two-year collaborative intervention entitled “Empowering Rural Women and Alleviating Poverty by Strengthening the Local Shea Butter Industry in Northern Ghana”.

This project aims at empowering rural women in Northern Ghana and alleviating their acute poverty by reinforcing the feasibility of local shea butter industry as a sustainable business. In order to achieve this goal, this project will: 1) identify the marketable quality of shea butter, 2) explore new markets for shea butter sales promotion, 3) provide business management skills for local women’s producer groups, and 4) transmit shea butter production skills and techniques among local women processors in a coordinated way. The achievement of these goal and objectives requires a wide range of proficiency in shea butter production, marketing and promotion; thus, this project has strategically included four development agencies with different expertise, namely UNDP, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Africa 2000 Network, and AFRASIA Business Council and has integrated its own strengths for achieving the shared project goals.


UNDP and Africa 2000 Network adopted a comprehensive approach working with people’s knowledge, language and culture.Capitalising on shea butter’s global popularity, UNDP and Japan have teamed up to bolster female entrepreneurs in Ghana and strengthen the African country’s economy by increasing production of the nut-based fat.  Working with the Sangnarigu Women’s Shea Butter Group, the Project facilitated the creation of synergies among various shea butter production groups who now benefit from other initiatives.  Leaders of Sagnarigu Women Shea Butter Group visited Japan and recently India to share their experiences and learn how to market their products.

The project has been successful because the women identified their own needs and made evidence of a strong cohesion. They have nominated leaders and are trying to improve the situation in their communities. The association and the exposure has helped them to better communicate and has significantly broadened their perspectives.


Seed funding of the project is from the UNDP/Japan Women in Development Fund (JWIDF), set up by the Japanese government.

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