Akoma Shea Butter Cooperative Multipurpose Society, Shea Butter Producers, Ghana.
"The women who are from poor communities like Pusu Namogo are blessed. Many women in our region and elsewhere have over the years worked so hard to put food on their tables for their families through farming and other odd jobs but end up with an unfair income leading to several deficiencies as a result of poor dieting. The majority of their money is spent on treating deficiency-related illnesses such as Kwashiorkor, beriberi and skin rashes. With Fairtrade the women are assured of receiving a fair wage for their hard work."
Juliana Sampana, President of Akoma Cooperative Multipurpose Society
We are celebrating women's cooperatives on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013. Here you can read about the Akoma Cooperative, an all-woman cooperative in Ghana, who hope to improve the lives of milions through the production of Akoma Shea Million Fairtrade shea butter. For more information on the campaign, supported by actress Jessica Hynes, visit: Supporting women's cooperatives on International Women's Day
The Akoma Cooperative Multipurpose Society is located in Bolgatanga, a poverty stricken area in the upper east region of Ghana. It was established in 1998 and is comprised entirely of women working to improve their quality of life. The focus of the cooperative is to eliminate poverty for producers and to raise awareness about ethical sourcing and local production that meets world market standards.
Unemployment is a critical issue in this area of Ghana. Collecting, processing, and selling shea nuts and shea butter at the Akoma Multipurpose Society is a main source of income for women in the community. The harvest runs from June to October and Akoma produces around 45 tonnes of shea butter a year, of which 15 tonnes is certified organic.
The facility at Akoma can produce approximately eight tonnes of shea butter a day and store approximately 12,000 bags of shea nuts. Significantly, the group does not intend to depend solely on the production of shea butter but, as a multipurpose society, the group wants to explore how to diversify into other crafts and learn new skills such as dressmaking, soap making and cocoa butter production to increase their offering as a co-operative.
Fairtrade and Akoma
Akoma obtained Fairtrade certification in July 2009. For Fairtrade sales Akoma receives at least the minimum Fairtrade price of €2,640 a tonne for shea butter, which ensures that members receive a decent return for their work. The additional Fairtrade premium of €185 a tonne will be used by members to establish various social programmes and make sustainable changes in their community.
As a first priority, Akoma will use the premium to renovate the Pusu-Namogo primary school, where the buildings are currently dilapidated and incomplete. Over the next five years, Akoma will use the premium for education and developing facilities for children. This will include a library, information technology centre, desks and school equipment.
Members of Akoma community who were already collecting and processing shea nuts have now joined this cooperative and received training to process shea nuts to meet international trading standards.
Juliana Sampana says that members’ lives can be transformed by participation in the Fairtrade system, but the prospect of a better future for members and their families will depend on the growth of the Fairtrade cosmetics market which will allow Akoma to sell more and more of their shea butter on Fairtrade terms.
Fairtrade Foundation September 2009
Look for the FAIRTRADE Mark on products. It’s your guarantee that disavantaged farmers and workers in the developing worldare getting a better deal.