2012 Congressional Budget Justification
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WASHINGTON - JULY 6, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 6 , 2011 –The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) President and CEO Lloyd Pierson together with Shea Yeleen International, Inc. (SYI) will host an event to promote shea butter production as a tool to increase income levels for women in rural parts of West Africa. “A Reception Honoring Shea Producers from Ghana” is to be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12 in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. This event will aim to raise awareness of the link between shea production and viable economic opportunities for women in West Africa.
USADF supports the mission of SYI, a nonprofit founded by Rahama Wright, a former Peace Corps Mali volunteer and first generation Ghanaian American. Its mission is to “promote sustainable economic development and empower women in rural West Africa through organizing and training women owned cooperatives to produce, market, and sell high quality products derived from shea butter.” These products range from scented balms to body creams available for sale online. One of SYI’s producers, CMA Shea Producing Cooperative in Ghana, is also a USADF grantee.
Mr. Pierson is pleased to take part in this opportunity to educate consumers in the U.S. about how to improve income levels in Africa. “Improving economic opportunity for rural women is a top priority for USADF. We see daily the connection between better incomes for women and the general prosperity of local communities,” said Mr. Pierson.
Rahama Wright believes USADF’s sponsorship will bring greater awareness to shea butter’s role in providing direct economic gain to rural women. “USADF and Shea Yeleen share not only a shea producing partner, but a passion for helping secure market linkages and economic opportunity for rural African women,” said Ms. Wright.
At the announcement of the event, USADF Chairman Jack Leslie remarked, “USADF works with the most marginalized populations to improve communities and families. I know that bringing awareness to shea butter production is essential in telling the story of economic opportunity for rural women in West Africa.”
Over the past five years, USADF has invested more than $1 million in shea butter production projects in West Africa. Shea butter is a lucrative food and cosmetic product created from the vitamin rich nuts of the shea tree native to West Africa. For centuries, local populations have used shea butter as a balm, and as a heating and cooking agent. Shea butter now offers large profit potential when processed as cosmetic cream and sold in global markets. Shea products, also known as “women’s gold”, are one of the few locally produced commodities that are crafted and controlled by women, offering direct opportunity to this often disadvantaged group. Studies show that women’s incomes are often redirected into school fees and medications for their children.
An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 tons of shea butter are exported to international markets each year. International, governmental, and non-profit groups, such as SYI, engage local women to gain direct profits from this lucrative industry.
USADF President Lloyd Pierson, accompanied by Shea Yeleen Founder Rahama Wright and CMA Vice President Gladys Sala Petey will speak at the event to be held at the Capitol Visitor Center.
The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent United States Government agency dedicated to ensuring economic opportunities for marginalized populations in 21 sub-Saharan African countries. Over the past 30 years, USADF has funded more than $200 million in African designed and led development projects. For more information on USADF and its programs, visit www.usadf.gov.