Upfield, a global leader in plant-based nutrition and maker of the Iconic Blue Band spread, in partnership with Fuji OilGhana has commissioned a 100 tonnes warehouse to support over 1,000 shea collectors in Bongbini, in the North East Region of Ghana.
The shea collectors who are majorly women in the community would benefit from the storage facilitytargeted at creating more opportunities for economic growth and development.
The commissioning of the facility marks the third phase of Upfield’s Shea Sustainability Project in Ghana. This third phase is a partnership with Fuji Oil Ghana’s TebmaKandu project targeting the improvement of livelihoods, health and safety of 1,000 women shea collectors who are members of a cooperative group set up by Global Shea Alliance and the partners.
Besides the warehouse which will serve as a central location for shea nut aggregation for the women, this program is providing access to prefinancing to support their businesses and families, trainings, and health and safety equipment including gloves, googles, torch lights and first aid boxes, to minimize their exposure to health and safety risks which may arise during shea collection and storage.
The Shea Sustainability Project is part of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy for impact along four key pillars – Plant Based, Healthier Lives, Happier People and Better Planet. According to Sally Smith, Upfield’s Global Director of Sustainability & ESG, the initiative is part of Upfield’s approach to achieve its ESG target of improving the livelihoods of 100,000 small holder farmers and plant-based entrepreneurs globally.
“We firmly believe a successful, sustainable business doesn’t happen in isolation; it is the result of collaboration, particularly in the supply chain. Through our collaboration with Fuji Oil Ghana, who is our supply partner, we are supporting 1,000 shea nut collectors in Bongbini improve their profitability and business sustainability. Making a food system that’s healthier, more affordable, and more sustainable through plant-based products means working closely with our communities, our supply chain, and with each other. ”
The first phase of the project commenced in December 2021, with Upfield’s announcement of its partnership with Eco Restore to plant 6,000 trees in the country’s Northern area. In June 2022, the second phase of the project saw to the planting of mature seedlings of shea and other indegenous trees in Tinguri, Gbimsi, Saadaafong, and Sayoo communities in the north area.
Speaking on phase 3 of the project, Moses Bamidele Amao, Managing Director of Upfield West Africa, stated that by providing the tools, trainings, and support necessary to help the women increase the quantity and quality of shea kernels they collect,they are improving the livelihoods of not only the women, but their families. “According to statistics, women put 90% of their money back into their families as opposed to males who only contribute 35%. It becomes clear from this that empowering a woman also empowers a generation. We therefore owe it to the communities where the shea kernels used in our products are collected, to assist in providing these women shea collectors with the training, financial empowerment, and tools they need to enhance their standard of living”.
“By empowering these women economically within a system that encourages support for one another, we hope to inspire them to recognize the value that they bring to society and the importance of carrying each other along. We also want them to see the way their work connects through dots in the shea value chain leading to the production of valuable finished products. There is an indisputable return in strengthening women in societynot necessarily for themselves alone, but for the larger good of the entire community and the country’s economy”, he added.
In his remark, the Managing Director of Fuji Oil Ghana, Mr Ronny Voorspools expressed the company’s commitment to economic growth and development in Ghana through strategic partnerships. He explained thegoal of the TebmaKandu Project and how it aims to provide a push to help the women achieve the better results they have always desired and congratulated Upfield for being the first partner with Fuji in their Project. “Fuji Oil Ghana launched its shea sustainability program in 2021 and called it TebmaKandu. The name comes from one of the women cooperatives collaborating with Fuji from the start of the program.
It is Manpruli and means “push me and I will climb”, which is a perfect match with the purpose of theTebmaKandu program: pushing the women cooperatives (35 in the meantime and counting) with trainings, a warehouse and other equipment, to become mature organizations that empower their women members.
TheTebmaKandu program itself is also “pushed” by a large number of partnerships: upstream by the Sustainable Shea Initiative program of the Global Shea Alliance and their partners in the field, the Presbyterian Agricultural Services and the Green World Initiative and by the Parkland Restoration Program of Eco Restore, but now also for the first time downstream by Upfield, an important customer of Fuji Oil Ghana for shea olein.”
Upfield and Fuji Oil Ghana are members of the Global Shea Alliance and have formed this strategic alliance to improve the livelihoods of women shea collectors in Bongbini. Both organisations are also participating in various tree growing initiatives towards a better planet.