The shea butter production initiative is a partnership between French Cosmetics firm l’Occitane en Provence and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). It aims to help women producers in rural Burkina Faso gain direct access to markets for their product.
The UNIFEM-L’Occitane partnership aims to strengthen production capabilities with the goal of assisting shea butter producers to gain access to international markets. The women are provided with financial assistance from UNIFEM and the United Nations Foundation in order to bolster their ability to produce shea butter. This assistance flows through the local producers cooperatives. These groups give women the opportunity to use United Nations funds as well as to pool their own resources in order to invest in necessary equipment, such as nut presses.L’Occitane also offers training on processing and storage techniques.
L’Occitane en Provence relinquished the practice of buying butter through intermediaries by buying substantial amounts of shea butter from the Unions des Groupements Kiswendsida (UGK), a group which comprises more than 100 local shea organizations. Moreover, L’Occitane pays in advance for the butter it purchases.