GHANA – The Ghana Exim Bank has committed US$1.85 million (GH¢10million) to support stakeholders in the shea value chain as part of the first phase of its Shea Empowerment Initiative.

The Initiative is aimed at providing economic empowerment to women shea collectors and processors engaged in the Shea value chain.

Mr Lawrence Agyinsam, the Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Exim Bank, said the bank would train 400 women in Shea Processing in four Districts in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

He said the Bank in collaboration with the Samaria Empowerment and Humanitarian Project on the initiative would provide four furnished Shea Processing Centres in the four Districts.

“We will also provide capacity building and financing for final processors,” he added.

Mr Agyinsam said that he was confident that the partnership with Samaria Empowerment and Humanitarian Project would go a long way to ensure the successful execution of the initiative.

He further added that 13 Shea-Butter-based Product manufacturers would be competitively selected to receive working capital to buy Shea from one of the four Processing Centres thereby ensuring business expansion and funding to participate in International Trade.

He said the two partners looked forward to ensuring that 1,600 women received training to build capacity and enhance skills, which would increase value-addition of Shea and increase export of the commodity to be a catalyst for wealth creation.

Mr Bright Darko, Head of Projects and Business Development on Shea Empowerment Initiative, said some of the challenges facing the Shea industry includes; access to market, access to technology, packaging, quality standards and certification.

Mr Darko said the key success factor of the initiative included prompt disbursement of funds, access to market, strong and continue linkage between the three-value chain, development and implementation of a strong sustainability plan and the initiative must be private sector led.

Mr Aaron Adu, Managing Director, Global Shea Alliance, said on the initiative the Alliance would be providing advisory role in the areas of the establishment of the processing centres, capacity building and market linkage.

Value addition in the industry, he noted, includes 6 expellers with the capacity to process 150,000 tons, 3 fractionation plants and a refinery.

Ghana is currently the only country doing fractionation and refining of shea nuts and exports approximately 70,000 tons per year with a global market share of US$380 billion.