Take a look at a piece I recently wrote for News-Decoder breaking down the shea industry, and how sustainable business contributes to development.
I knew it was used in cosmetics. But chocolate and medicine?
Before I started working with the Global Shea Alliance in Accra, Ghana, I was familiar with shea as a cosmetic product.
So I was surprised to learn that shea — from the tree of the same name — is mostly consumed in chocolate, and in Africa’s Sahel region it is used as a vegetable oil. Butter from the tree’s nuts is even used as an anti-inflammatory balm and to treat dermatitis.
Shea plays a critical role in West Africa’s economy. In the cosmetics industry, shea is well known for its excellent moisturizing properties and has become a popular go-to for hair and body products.
In the chocolate industry, shea is used as a cocoa butter equivalent (CBE) because it helps prolong chocolate’s shelf life without altering its taste.
As shea’s reputation grows in the food and cosmetics industries, it has the potential to substantially drive regional growth, especially in under-resourced communities, where shea can account for up to 12 percent of a family’s income.