Fair Trade Shea Butter and the Global Mamas
by Marissa Kasarov
That soft, velvety, luxurious feeling you get from your lotions, creams, hair care products and more, comes from the personal care superfood, Shea butter. We use it in many of our skin and hair care products because it just makes them all so much more rich and creamy. The Shea tree (Karite) is indigenous to Africa, specifically the countries across the dry savannah belt of the continent. Much of the world’s Shea butter comes from Ghana, where women’s skills and financial contributions are traditionally undervalued. There, in a region that suffers from drought and poverty, exists a network of women working together in an uplifting way to sustainably produce this creamy goodness. We want to introduce you to the talented and skilled Global Mamas, our choice for Fair Trade Shea butter.
Sisters Love their Mamas
There are mamas and then there are Mamas. Spinster Sisters are mamas because our choice for fair trade Shea butter is the Global Mamas, and all the spokes in the wheel of this worldwide community are, by extension, mamas.
Then there are the Mamas – these are the talented and hardworking African women who produce the butter and other handcrafted goods. With a focus on creating space for the women to succeed as entrepreneurs and achieve financial independence, Global Mamas provides them with training in basic, business, technical, and computer skills, personal finance, health education, and fair trade. On average, the Mamas producers make 2.5 X minimum wage, and for most, that means they are able to cover the cost of their family’s living and medical expenses, as well as save for the future.
The seed didn’t fall far from the tree
The knowledge needed to actually create the butter has been passed down for generations. Who was the first human who looked at a seed on the ground that fell from the Shea tree, and thought, “hey, I bet I could make that into a luxurious butter that people all over the world will desire to make their skin smooth and their hair shiny”… and then methodically figured out all the steps to make that happen, and refine them over and over until they had the best quality, color, and texture? It’s really amazing when you think about it. To see the Mamas at work, artfully going through all those steps, please enjoy this video. We sure did! We all have these amazing women to thank for our soft, supple elbows.
Global Mamas is dedicated to the equitable partnership between producers of goods in developing countries and sellers in developed countries, like us. Indeed, that’s the cornerstone of fair trade. As a full member of the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation, “Global Mamas embraces these concepts [the 10 Principles of Fair Trade established by the WFTO] in all aspects of our work and aspires to be a role model for fair trade organizations around the world.” ~ globalmamas.org
Who’s making your Shea butter?
While we love the mamas because of our sustainability mission and commitment to source through Fair Trade whenever possible, we also love knowing the actual, specific human beings producing the butter. Global Mamas lets us feel involved in, and part of, the process. Do you know who’s making the Shea Butter in your other favorite products or if it’s even Fair Trade? We think it’s worth finding out, because while Shea butter already feels delicious on your skin and hair, it feels even better when you know it’s being done right.