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Uplifting Women In Shea

by Burt’s Bees | 2 min read

What’s Shea Butter?

Shea Butter is the creamy fat that’s extracted from the seed kernels of the karite tree, which is native to West Africa’s dry savannah. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fatty acids that help nourish and moisturize the skin, while fighting free radical damage.

“It is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fatty acids that help nourish and moisturize the skin, while fighting free radical damage.”

Ninety percent of shea products are used in food, mainly as an alternative to cocoa butter. The other ten percent are used in skincare and cosmetics. We’ve turned to it for years to make some of our most skin-loving products like hand creams, body lotions and more.

Women’s Gold

 Shea Butter is known to many as “women’s gold” in the regions where it’s harvested. Since the 1300s, shea has been an important source of income in African countries, primarily for women living in remote villages. Today, there are 16 million women working in shea throughout Africa. 

“Since the 1300s, shea has been an important source of income in African countries, primarily for women living in remote villages.”

It’s common for women to collect shea nuts, roast the kernels and physically extract the butter. To help ensure the well-being of the women who make it possible for us to use this remarkable ingredient in our products, we helped found the Global Shea Alliance and its Sustainability Program. Working with several regional partners, we’ve been able to support more than 10,000 women who manage this special ingredient through shea kernel collection and processing in Burkina Faso and Ghana.

An Ingredient for Change

Here’s how our community initiatives have made a real impact on the women who produce West African shea.

1 warehouse

constructed for shea kernel and Shea Butter aggregation


1 processing center

constructed for shea kernel roasting and shea butter production


 6,700+ women trained

to build fuel-efficient cook stoves that help improve safety conditions for shea production, their families and increase efficiency of daily cooking

8,500+

women trained on quality shea kernel processing


4,700+

women received cooperative development training


200+

cooperatives registered

We’re expanding these efforts in Ghana to focus on economic empowerment, income diversification, Village Savings and Loan programs and more.

Our latest program, SheKeeper, will help to diversify income sources for shea communities, while preparing at least 600 women to become beekeepers, a role predominantly occupied by men around the world. The collaboration will build capacity of 1200 smallholders (small-scale collectors), with the potential to scale the efforts and improve livelihoods of the more than 16 million women collectors and processors across 21 African countries making up the shea industry. Learn more here.

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