Zakaria Abdul Hakim Cisse || Sanatu Zambang
For centuries, the Guinea Savannah Ecological zone has boasted of the shea tree as an important economic tree.
While the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa)is said to grow on its own in the wild and commonly found in the agro-forestry parklands in the dry Savannah belt of West Africa, in Ghana, its prevalence is concentrated much in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, as well as some parts of the Brong Ahafo Region. These places are largely where shea butter industries obtain their raw materials.
The shea tree which possess both domestic, nutritional and economic benefits, has been called by many as ‘poverty-coping’ tree, since anyone can go to the bush and harvest the fruits. As one of the most income-generating tree crops for most women in Northern Ghana, several of the women in the shea industry are still not getting financial freedom. This is largely due to their lack of understanding special processing and packaging to meet international demands and their lack of adequate financial information.
An NGO and social development organization based in Northern Region, ‘Humanity Women Initiative’ is finding a sustainable solution to the above challenges. The organization uses economic empowerment as a tool of bridging the gaps between marginalized groups in Northern Ghana.
By way of this, the organization creates a network of women and equip them in some fine skills in addition to their conventional knowledge in shea processing. They are also then taken through the commercialization aspect of the business which will increase their financial returns.
Humanity Women Initiative believes that teaching the rural Ghanaian woman a skill and how to generate income is far better than giving them money, which will only make them even more dependent.
The organization is ran by dedicated females who wish to change the narrative on empowering the female to walk should-to-shoulder with men. By financial empowerment, this means that, women can support their children to go to school and provide basic needs of the household in times the husband is not financially fit.
It is exciting how people are rather now embracing sustainable approaches in problem solving.