Shea Yeleen International is a unique social enterprise that includes a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a commercial entity that sells high-quality, unrefined shea butter products. Our mission 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.
Shea Yeleen works with the Tamale Shea Cluster Initiative which is made up of over 800 women in 14 different groups.
Some call shea butter “women’s gold” because it is one of the few economic commodities women control in Sahelian Africa. Exclusive to the sub-Sahara, shea butter’s use in cooking, as lamp oil, ointment, moisturizer, and soap, make it one of the most relied upon products in West Africa.
Rural women in the Sahel do not have it easy: they hold an inferior position in society, they are predominantly less educated than men, and they also handle household chores and child-rearing most of the day. In developing countries where women have engaged in economic endeavors, the overall well-being of the communities improves. One of the ways for women to participate in economic endeavors is to be better informed of the opportunities available to them. For example, even though shea butter is a hot commodity, most women in isolated rural communities are unaware of the popularity of this indigenous product. By informing women shea butter producers about such opportunities and strengthening their ability to supply a global market through the organization of cooperatives – as well as training them on more efficient production methods – there is a real opportunity to make a financial impact on their lives.