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Shea Cooperative

Ojoba Women’s Shea Butter Cooperative

create-opportunity.jpgThe Ojoba Women's Shea Butter Cooperative is made up of 400 rural village women. These women live under difficult circumstances as subsistence farmers in the arid northern region of Ghana, West Africa. They must cope with poor, rocky soil, unreliable rains, and little public infrastructure such as affordable transportation, communications, health care or education. 

Before coming together to form the shea butter cooperative; many of the women were engaged in a daily struggle just to get by. Their subsistence crops of millet and groundnuts did not produce enough food to feed them and their children for the whole year, let alone allow them to save seeds for the following year, or sell any surplus at the market. In order to earn additional money to feed their families, and pay for school fees, many of the women resorted to back-breaking work such as firewood collection. Others were forced to leave their children with relatives while they searched for any type of menial work in the big cities far to the south. Still others were so poor that they had no choice but to give their children away to work as maids and servants just to ensure their children's survival.

Now, with the income produced by the purchase of Ojoba Collective shea butter; these women are finally seeing some real improvement in their lives. Not only can they feed themselves and their children, but all of their children are now enrolled in school. All the women are also enrolled in Ghana’s National Healthcare Plan, a first in the village. We also offer free adult literacy classes, and community classes on permaculture and basic healthcare.

There are intangible benefits as well. When we first started working with the group, they were very timid, and felt unable to bring about real change in their lives. But now they are feeling empowered and in-charge. They have also realized the value of working together and helping each other succeed. As one of the women said, "before [forming a cooperative] we didn't do things in common. But now we can come together as women and share ideas. Now we have confidence to work together and not be shy." For the first time, these women can dare to dream about a better future.

Click here to meet Individual Cooperative Members