Women and Shea Butter, A Long Story
A centuries-old legend tells that Nefertiti had discovered a miraculous cream with which she could take care of her incredible beauty. This cream was made in Sub-Saharan Africa and even after thousands of years it continues to be used by women in the region. The cream has many beneficial properties; moisturizing, nourishing, regenerating, protecting the skin from pollution and helping anti-aging of the skin.
Today, regions of the world like Europe, North America and Japan are good shea butter consumers for cacao production, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
Producing the Shea Butter
Shea trees are located in West and Central African savannahs. After 25 years of growth, it’s able to produce fully its fruit, 15 to 20 kilos of nuts per year. Once picked, producers extract the nut from the shell which they crush, roast and grind to make a liquid paste. It’s then kneaded, baked, kneaded again and baked again. From this process, they are left with oil that they leave to cool and then as it hardens it becomes shea butter.
This process is quite long and needs various baking times. That’s the reason why the StovePlus Africa team is interested in the ICCO project [Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation]. The NGO supports and helps Sub-Saharan women to improve their production cost-effectiveness not to sell at a loss to multinationals and to sales intermediaries from the cosmetic industries and other businesses. StovePlus has begun a pilot study to evaluate performance, use and adoption of institutional clean cookstoves for shea butter production this month in Mali.
To better understand and to assess the needs of the end-users, the team will be able, when the study ends, to recommend an improved cookstove able to reduce household gases, particulate matter and baking times.
The final device should match as much as possible with the end-users’ needs and habits as well as improved cookstove standards.
What should be the tangible benefits for the end-users?
The device should help save time while baking the shea butter and reduce the fuelwood and/or charcoal needs. By saving this time, it will also help the women save money and time spent gathering or buying fuels.
We will share the whole description of the project very soon!