Shea Butter's Global Benefits

Shea butter has become increasingly popular as a moisturizing ingredient in contemporary beauty products. It comes from the shea nut, which grows on rare trees in Africa's Sahel belt. And because of shea butter's burgeoning cosmetic use in the Western world, the African women who harvest the nuts are able to feed their children and send them to school.

In 1990, the Songtaab-Yalgre Association was established to teach Mossi women, many of them widows, to read and write. But after accomplishing literacy, the organization felt they needed to do more to help the women overcome poverty. “We decided to start shea butter production because it can help village women make some cash,” Songtaab-Yalgre Association Vice President Clarisse Nonguierma told AFP.

Thanks to additional organizations like Project Karite (karite is the French word for “shea”), who organize the women and provide them with equipment, shea butter, in terms of exports, now ranks almost as highly as cotton in areas like Burkina Faso. And because of shea-committed brands like The Body Shop and L'Occitane, its value to African women continues to grow.