Shea butter is often used in beard care products as is Cocoa butter, often these products are purchased by a ‘middle man’ and then sold on for profit whilst the people who produce the products are left with a less than suitable wage. Often this is because it is hard to buy from the source but the Ajike Centre has changed change that and helped to change the life of the women who produce these products!
When Ajike, a Nigerian from Ibadan, who is living in Ghana came in contact with one of the women in the community from whom she buys Shea butter for her hair and body butter, she learnt of their hardship and how middlemen have been taking advantage of their situation.
She finally visited the women in their communities after a 14hrs road journey from the city of Accra. There she saw their suffering and hardship first-hand as she saw very old women in their 70’s still producing Shea butter because according to them, they would go hungry if they stopped and so they continue until they can no longer walk to the wild to pick the Shea nuts nor have the physical power to kneel during Shea butter production.
Their children also cannot support their aged mothers because they are all in the village as subsistence farmers who also have to depend on their mothers for support. These women are so poor that they could not afford to take passport photographs!
Before the centre, these women would risk snake bites in the wild to pick Shea nuts that drops from the Shea trees during harvest season, produce unrefined Shea butter after series of tedious processes and get to sell their Shea nuts and butter cheaply to middlemen on credit who will pay 3 weeks later after these middlemen sell with a very high profit margin. Producing at the centre gives them the opportunity to be in charge as they not only get paid by the centre for the fresh Shea nuts they have picked but in addition, they are employed and get paid for the production of their Shea nuts into butter.
“When I came in contact with the women, I would give them both new and used clothing items and cash donations. I knew that in as much as those were helping them, it wasn’t going to solve the problem of poverty in their communities but a sustainable and stable income would. From writing my project work in my final year at the university on ‘Gender Discrimination, The right of a Woman in Perspective’ in 2005 to my humanitarian work as a of women empowerment groups including Women International League for Peace & Freedom, (WILPF) Ghana Chapter and a member of the CommNet, a fraction of Women Peace Institute, Koffi Anan International Peace Keeping Institute, Ghana, I knew I had to do something to change the situation of these women and their communities as a whole. For me, it is more of a purpose than a passion” – Ajike Adebimpe, Founder
Now I don’t know about you but for me this sounds far more acceptable, certainly we would all rather that the women who work to produce these beautiful products get a decent wage and are able to support themselves and their families, that is only right!
But also why should a middle man make a huge profit with little effort?
By buying from somewhere like the Ajike Centre you know where your ingredients have come from, you know that it is unchanged and you probably don’t pay an inflated price.
So what does the Ajike Centre stand for?
This is our core aim and responsibility for the centre which we take very seriously. It is our dream that every woman in our centre gain financial freedom which in turn have a positive impact in their communities as a whole. To achieve this, we encourage our women producers to have a common fund from their premium where they buy livestock like goats in large quantities for a group of women to breed and start a business with, the next time they get another premium, other women in the centre also get to start another business in another livestock breeding like Guinea fowls etc. These businesses are not only other stable sources of income, they are also respected and loved by their husbands like never before.
As a result of working and planning together at the centre, we want to see the women able to build and strengthen their community because they have the same agenda and goal which is to make their lives better. They work together under the same roof, support each other to start new businesses and also see themselves now more like sisters regardless of their age difference. Because these women are the backbones of their communities, the relationship amongst their husbands and children will also be greatly impacted. What better way to build a strong community.
Giving Back to the Community;
As a Social Enterprise, we take it a responsibility to give back to the communities of these women in appreciation for their skills, knowledge and tradition. This was why we started giving to their communities even before we starting business and making profits from our activities in their communities. We carried out a school renovation project and clothing items donations before we started operations at the centre. We aim to establish a mini clinic for Maternal care where the women would receive free Antenatal especially there is none in their communities. Most of them do not make it to the towns when it is time for delivery.
Before the centre, each woman would prepare their Shea butter in their homes using different practices and procedures. This is accountable for the numerous variations of Shea butter across Shea butter producing communities in Africa. But since working at the centre, they are able to produce under the same roof with the same practice which brings uniformity to the quality of the Shea butter produced especially after they have been trained on how to produce premium and the highest quality. This is why in as much as we are empowering rural women, we also take pride in making premium quality Shea nuts and butter available globally.
To contact the Ajike Centre for a general enquiry, buy Shea Butter or for wholsale click here.
Ajike Shea Centre
Email – [email protected]