We are loving Shea Yeleen International here at ONE, and not just because the shea butter in their luxuriously scented products – like Apple Lip Balm, Jasmine Sandalwood Rose Shea Butter Soap and Lavender Honeysuckle Body Butter – make your skin feel amazing. This social enterprise also has a positive impact on communities and families in sub-Saharan Africa. Just ask Gladys and Joana – two of Shea Yeleen’s favorite shea producers from Ghana.
These women manage huge cooperatives of female shea producers who, through their partnership with Shea Yeleen, have increased their access to markets and expanded their market share. In fact, we’re excited to announce their expansion into Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic region - now it will be even easier for you to purchase some of their products!
At one of their tour stops, we heard these engaging and animated women talk about how empowered they feel being able to provide for their families, send their children to school, buy medicine and food, and have a voice in business where one didn’t previously exist.
Shea Yeleen’s mission is to “promote sustainable economic development in rural sub-Saharan Africa, empower and train women-owned shea butter cooperatives, and educate consumers in the US about natural beauty care products and fair trade.”
The woman behind this amazing enterprise, Rahama, took her living allowance provided after her time in the Peace Corps in Mali to start Shea Yeleen.
“My goal was to build regional solidarity around shea production because women in Ghana and Burkina had more advanced production methods that could be shared with the co-op I started in Mali. Things were going well up until the civil unrest started and our main partner pulled out. Right now our activities in Mali are on pause until things become more secure. Our goal is to return when we can.”
Shea butter itself is loaded with Vitamin A and Vitamin E, which promotes skin cell renewal. And if you want to appreciate this product even more, check out the extensive process these women go through to get it from this unassuming nut to what’s in the cosmetic jar on your local Whole Foods shelf.
The Shea Nut Tree grows in sub-Saharan Africa. Photo courtesy of Shea Yeleen International.
The nuts are boiled and then the kernels are dried in the sun. Photo courtesy of Shea Yeleen International
Photo courtesy of Shea Yeleen International
Rahama’s hope is that Shea Yeleen will be able to help 5,000 women generate a living wage through business: “My hope is that when a person sees our shea butter products, they think of a woman in Africa caring for herself and her family. I also want our model to be successful enough so that other companies start doing their business differently and making sure that their supply chain is ethical.”
As their tagline says, “Transform your skin, transform a community.” That’s certainly something we can get onboard with. Here’s to smooth skin for a good cause!