In Burkina Faso, the women of the Song Taaba cooperative in Banko, in the province of Boulkiemdé, have decided to make the transformation of shea into butter their job. Mariam Zongo, one of the protagonists, tells us: “We inherited this business from our mothers who in turn transformed the shea into butter. This product is traditionally part of our consumption habits, but now it is also an important source of income because, beyond Burkina, it is in great demand everywhere, even in Europe”.
Shea butter, in fact, is the basis of many cosmetic products, such as moisturizers or soothing ones, and has always been used by Burkinabé women to treat and soften their own skin and that of children. Moreover, it is also used in the kitchen as an dietary fat to replace oil, especially in recipes such as benga, a dish based on rice and local beans, but it is also used for the preparation of hazelnut or chocolate spreads that are found in supermarkets.
Mariam and her colleagues from Song Taaba are very happy because thanks to the funds received from the project “Innovative social enterprises and participation of migrants for social inclusion in Burkina Faso” (co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Maria Enrica Foundation) have finally been able to purchase adequate material and strengthen their production capacity. Furthermore, the literacy course organized by the project was highly appreciated by the women of the cooperative, in fact Mariam herself tells us that “priorly they didn’t even know how to hold a pen” while now they are much more autonomous even in writing.
The biggest change that Mariam and her colleagues have witnessed, however, was the transition from manual to semi-industrial work, which facilitated and increased production by transforming a simple group into a company. The women who are members of the cooperative can now give their own contribution in the management of the domestic economy, through the payment of school fees, medical care, the purchase of clothes and food for their children.