|Type||Social enterprise, natural beauty care|
|Key people||Rahama Wright
(President & CEO)
Shea Yeleen is a social enterprise that includes a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a commercial entity that sells "high-quality, unrefined shea butter products." The mission of the organization is "to promote sustainable economic development in rural sub-Saharan Africa, empower and train women-owned shea butter cooperatives, and educate consumers in the U.S. about natural beauty care products and fair trade.
Wright, a first generation Ghanaian American, first discovered shea butter production while an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2002. Later that year, Wright became a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, "where she supported the creation of the first shea butter cooperative in the village of Dio."
Through her experiences in these countries, Wright made two key observations that would inspire her work. First, she saw that "women could not take basic steps to improve their families’ health and nutrition because they lack independent income." Second, she noted that "women in Mali and more than a dozen African countries are key players in the production of shea butter — and that shea butter is a cosmetic hit in developed countries."
In 2005, Wright applied these lessons to found Shea Yeleen, which has worked with women in cooperatives in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali. In March 2012, Shea Yeleen launched a for-profit LLC to market and sell their fair trade shea butter beauty care line.
Business model and products
Shea Yeleen "promotes empowerment among women in rural West Africa by teaching them sustainable economic development through organizing and training women-owned cooperatives to produce, market, and sell high quality shea butter themselves." Shea Yeleen also works to ensure "that the profits from their products go back to the female-owned cooperatives that are cultivating and developing the products."
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- "The Shea Butter Economy: Big Money and Exploitation". The Atlanta Post. 6 July 2011.
- "The Rise of For-profit Non-profits". Shea Yeleen. 28 May 2012.
- "An African spring". Reuters. 19 May 2011.
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