Here on the blog, we’ve been fans of SheaMoisture for over 3 years. Until some months ago, I was familiar with the brand’s story after reading it so many times on product labels, but I didn’t think it was a REAL story. You know what I mean?
Sofi Tucker started selling Shea Nuts at the village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. By age 19, the widowed mother of four was selling Shea Butter, African Black Soap and her homemade hair and skin preparations all over the countryside. Sofi Tucker was our Grandmother and SheaMoisture is her legacy. Through Community Commerce you help empower disadvantaged women to realize a brighter, healthier future.”
Even after learning that Sofi Tucker was a real person, meeting actual Sofi Tucker grandchildren who run the business today, and reading about their Community Commerce in Ghana, I just felt, “Oh, that’s nice!”
I still didn’t get it.
Until last week, when I visited 2 communities in Northern Ghana with the SheaMoisture and SheaMoisture Nigeria Teams, Umy- the winner of the Young Sofi Tucker competition, and blogger boo, Tosin of Africanism Cosmopolitan & Naija Naturals.
All the Shea butter used in SheaMoisture products is sourced directly from 15 women’s cooperatives in Northern Ghana. We visited two of them, the Bognayili and Gupanarigu Cooperatives, less than an hour’s drive from the city of Tamale.
Sure, like any self-respecting business with Shea in its name, SheaMoisture needs to buy Shea butter to make products. Duh.
What matters, what makes the difference, is HOW they do it.
Buying the Shea somehow, anyhow, would satisfy their production needs. From a capitalist standpoint, the market should drive the cost and in this case, it would be too easy for SheaMoisture to buy Shea from these women in vulnerable communities, at little to nothing.
Inspired by their grandmother, the SheaMoisture family IS doing business differently, as corny or cliché as this may sound. They use a Community Commerce business model, where they source their Shea in direct partnership with communities, and this is changing the lives of women who are doing today what Sofi Tucker was doing back then in 1912.
The women used to be at the mercy of middlemen who would refuse to buy their Shea at the offered prices. This was a deliberate tactic, because after holding out until the Shea butter is just about to spoil, the women would eventually be forced to cave in to sell at a ridiculous price, just to get something for their hard work.
Now, under SheaMoisture’s Community Commerce programme, they have eliminated the middlemen. With their partners on the ground, SheaMoisture purchases all their Shea directly from women in 15 cooperatives, at an ethical wage- which is 2 or 3 times more than the price at which their Shea is traded in the market. »Read more
In November Ab, from the Kink and I blog, joined our SheaMoisture teams, along with our “Finding Young Sofi” contest winner Umeadi Blessing Odega, to visit the Sundial Brands Community Commerce cooperatives in Tamale, a region of northern Ghana where SheaMoisture sources its shea butter.