Shea kernels are a very important and unique raw material for AAK. The shea tree is a wild tree growing in a belt across Africa south of the Sahara. Countries with the highest population of shea trees include Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo – also some of the least developed countries in the world. Due to a very long maturity period, shea trees are not grown in plantations.
Over more than 60 years, AAK has gained extensive knowledge and experience of this raw material and the local communities in which AAK operates. Selected shea trees are continuously monitored and combined with multiple weather data in a complex matrix to assess the size of the next harvest, and a number of processes take place to ensure an unbroken supply chain from the collection of shea kernels and early pre-treatment, to transportation to ports and warehouses and then shipment to Northern Europe.
Global Shea Alliance
The Global Shea Alliance is a multi-stakeholder non-profit organization established in 2011 with AAK as one of its founding members. Today, the organization has more than 400 members from more than 30 different countries.
The purpose of the alliance is to drive a competitive and sustainable shea industry worldwide, improving the livelihoods of rural African women and their communities. More information about the Global Shea Alliance can be found at www.globalshea.com.
Kolo Nafaso – women’s groups in Burkina Faso
In 2009 AAK initiated a project of responsible sourcing of shea kernels in Burkina Faso. The initial project was designed as a win-win concept between the women collecting the shea kernels and AAK. It was called Kolo Nafaso, meaning “the house of benefits of shea kernels”. The project grew bigger and became a program, meaning a new way of doing business for both AAK and the women. As seen in the graph below, the number of women participating in the program has grown almost exponentially since 2009 which to us is a great indicator of its success. In 2015/16, more than 90,000 women joined the program, surpassing our expectations by 20,000. There are still many women who would like to join the program, and thus our aim is to further extend it next season.
We have now started the same program in Ghana where 4,000 women, having delivered shea kernels for the first season, are enrolled. Our goal for Ghana is to broaden the program for the coming season.