Voice of America

The Shea Butter In Your Lotion Is 'Gold' For Some African Women

Shea butter is globally popular, and for many women in Africa, it's a vital part of their income.

By Melissa Prax | August 10, 2016

Shea butter — it's in lotions, scrubs and even some chocolate.

Its popularity is international, but it all comes from this fruit native to Africa.

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And for women in North Africa, collecting, refining and selling shea butter can provide millions with pay. That's why it's often called "women's gold."

"Sometimes, shea butter pays well, and we don't need anything else. But when the harvest isn't good, we have to get by with other products," said Alice Koné, Ivory Coast shea butter producer.

That's because shea is harvested in the wild. The plants are difficult to grow in plantations.

Many women throughout the Sahel region are just selling locally, but going international could bring in more money.

“As soon as we have a strong cooperative structure, we will have clients in China, Europe and the United States," Ali Keita said.

This video includes clips from Voice of America and images Nina Nelson / CC BY 2.0Steven Depolo / CC BY 2.0Tim Hoggarth / CC BY 2.0 and John Loo / CC BY 2.0.

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