The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, Thursday, inaugurated a shea butter processing facility that would better the economic opportunities for some 600 women who collect and process shea nuts.
The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), supported the construction of the facility and warehouse located in Gizaa-Gunda, in the Northern Region.
Shea is a primary source of livelihood for women in northern Ghana, and is one of the few agricultural crops where women control the revenue.
“This event highlights efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment through partnerships that connect Ghanaian women producers with U.S. buyers,” a statement issued by the US Embassy in Accra.
“The United States supports key projects like this to promote economic growth and job creation in Ghana so that young people may build a future of prosperity here at home for the benefit of all citizens and their communities,” Ambassador Sullivan said.
The partnership to develop the shea butter processing facility and warehouse was catalysed by USAID and the Global Shea Alliance (GSA).
The Alliance, which include a US cosmetics company, a local buying company (Savanna Fruits Company) and the Presbyterian Agricultural Services (PAS), worked with the local community as part of the Sustainable Shea Initiative (SSI) project.
The SSI was launched in 2016 by USAID in partnership with the GSA.
It is an $18 million-five-year partnership to promote the sustainable expansion of the shea industry in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Burkina Faso.
The partnership matches USAID funds with private sector and donor funds to provide needed skills training and infrastructure to support women shea collectors.
The Gizaa-Gunda facility is one of 34 warehouses that USAID and GSA have launched with communities and cooperatives in Ghana over the past three years; expanding opportunities for 30,000 women.
“Overall, SSI is expected to deliver 250 warehouses across West Africa, facilitating more than $150 million in shea exports and benefitting more than 137,000 women.
“The United States looks forward to finding more opportunities over the next year to partner with companies, communities, and non-profits to drive new opportunities for Ghanaians and promote a path to self-reliance and resilience”.
The USAID/West Africa regional mission’s goal is to promote social and economic well-being advanced by West Africans.
Spanning 21 countries, USAID/West Africa designs and implements programs with West African partners to strengthen systems of non-violent conflict management, support economic growth, and expand quality health services.