4 Highlights from Shea 2017
Over 400 international stakeholders from across the shea value chain gathered in Cotonou, Benin to discuss the latest developments in the shea industry. From small women’s groups to global brands to government representatives, participants were able to learn from panel sessions, network in the business-to-business forum, and showcase their products at the exhibition.
This year’s theme: Seeds of Change embodied the innovations that GSA members are planting including empowering women, expanding markets, preserving shea parklands and building public – private partnerships.
1. 36 GSA members and experts present at Shea 2017
Shea 2017 attendees participated in over 9 panel sessions as well as two practical demonstrations.
- MEDA presented on “Technological Innovations in Shea Industry Development” where they discussed the seeming long gestation of the shea tree, which had served as a barrier to sustained access to shea nuts. With their latest research, MEDA was able to showcase how they shortened this gestation period leading to increased availability and access to quality shea seedlings.
-Laboratoires M&L presented on their ecological innovations within their kernel processing centers that reduce environmental impact, improve conditions for women collectors, and improve supply chain traceability.
-Technoserve presented on best practices on community engagement involving strategies such as: conducting a community needs assessment, building community trust, developing effective facilitation, and building the capacity of community leaders.
All presentations can be found on the GSA website here
2. Participants form new connections at the business to business forum
The business to business forum was an open networking session that allowed for participants to make new contacts and interact with stakeholders. Attending organizations representatives included: AAK, The Body Shop, IOI Loders Croklaan, L’Occitane, Wilmar, 3F, and Fuji Oil.
“Being part of the Shea Conference 2017 was an unique opportunity to directly interact with various stakeholders of Shea industry, as well as an occasion to pledge for better working conditions of rural women. I believe that our voices will be taken into consideration and different programs will be implemented to improve working conditions”.
Kora Memounatou, Executive Committee Member
3. Small businesses showcase their products and receive trainings
The exhibition also allowed participants to interact with one another and for small businesses to showcase their products. Over 30 companies participated in the exhibition and displayed products ranging from lotions and creams to cosmetics and hair care. Of the 400 participants over 150 were women’s group representatives. To cater to these representatives, an entire day of the conference was dedicated to small business trainings. Women were able to learn practical skills such as choosing fragrances for soaps and creams and formulating products specifically for babies and children. Additionally there were two specialized panel sessions on exporting requirements with presenters going over guidelines for exporting to the EU and the US. There was also a panel on branding and marketing with presenters reviewing the importance of a digital presence and creative packaging.
“As a woman, I think that Shea Conference is the ideal moment to celebrate our effort, our hard work, and our precious support for the shea industry. From different countries, with different styles and different life experiences, we were like a little family. This is very impressive and particularly unforgettable for me”.
Ouattara Alima, Ivory Coast
4. Members vote at the General Assembly and Elect a new Executive Committee
At this year’s assembly, members were presented with an overview of GSA’s accomplishments in 2016. The 2016 annual and financial report were also reviewed and approved. The Sustainability Working Group presented on 2016 program results and impact.
Members then took a vote to establish the 2017 – 2019 Executive Committee. The elected members are as follows:
Badie Marico, President, Mali Representative
Edwige Hammond, Vice President, Ivory Coast Representative
Kasper Torup-Villadsen, Vice President, International Processors Representative
Prince Obeng Asante, Member, Ghana Representative
Jibril Bokani, Member, Nigeria Representative
Michel Eggen, Member, International Processors Representative
Shannon Hess, Member, International Brand Representative
Memounatou Kora, Member, Women's Group Representative
Antoinette Ouedraogo, Member, Burkina Faso Representative
Gladys Tawema, Member, Benin Representative
Thank you everyone who attended Shea 2017 and we hope to see you next year!