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SHEA BUTTER MARKET – BRINGING GIFTS TO THE MASSES

In Beauty, Business, Culture, Health, Living, Media Writing, Pets, Writing (all kinds) on November 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

I CALLED GIFTY SERBEH-DUNN AS SHE WAS FEEDING HER CAT. HER BOYS WALKED BY THE CAT WITHOUT FEEDING HER. HER BIG BOY IS HER HUSBAND WAYNE DUNN WHO HAS A BUSINESS DEGREE FROM STANFORD. HER SMALL 7-YEAR-OLD BOY IS HER SON KABORÉ. SERBEH-DUNN HAS MANY THINGS TO DO SUCH AS FEEDING HER CAT AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS SHEA BUTTER MARKET.

“SHEA BUTTER MARKET WAS INSPIRED BY THE WOMEN IN MY COMMUNITY AND ENCOURAGED BY MY HUSBAND,” SAYS SERBEH-DUNN.

WHEN SHE WOULD TRAVEL TO HER HOMELAND GHANA, SHE WOULD GET SOME SHEA BUTTER AND BRING IT BACK TO CANADA. ANOTHER TIME SHE WENT HOME SHE ASKED PEOPLE THERE WHAT THEY WANTED HER TO BRING BACK FROM CANADA AND THEY SAID – “NOTHING, WE JUST WANT TO WORK.”

HER HUSBAND IS INVOLVED IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY WORK. SHE RAN THE IDEA BY HER HUSBAND TO START A BUSINESS WITH SHEA BUTTER FROM THE WOMEN SHE KNEW IN GHANA TO HELP THEM TO GET WORK.

MAINLY HER FOCUS WAS ON WHOLESALE ACCOUNTS. SHE CONNECTED WITH GREG SULLIVAN WHO LIVED WITH HER FAMILY 30 YEARS AGO AND WAS IN SUPPORT OF HER BUSINESS. SULLIVAN LIVES IN COLORADO AND WORKED WITH THE PEACE CORPS IN TAKPO AS A VOLUNTEER. HE INTRODUCED HER TO THE WIDOWS’ COLLECTIVE WHO NOW PRODUCES THE SHEA BUTTER FOR HER.

TAKPO VILLAGE IS WHERE THE WOMEN WHO WORK FOR THE BUSINESS IN GHANA ARE BASED.

“WE WENT TO THE VILLAGE, WE MET WITH THE CHIEF. HIS WIFE MONICA IS THE SECRETARY AND DOES THE BOOKS FOR THE WIDOWS’ GROUP. THE CHIEF WAS FAMILIAR WITH MY CONCERNS WITH QUALITY CONTROL AND TIMELY DELIVERY OF THE PRODUCT, BECAUSE HE LIVED IN CANADA HE UNDERSTOOD. HE WENT TO LAVAL UNIVERSITY YEARS BACK. NOTHING WAS FOREIGN TO HIM.”

THE WOMEN WERE JUMPING UP AND DOWN WITH JOY. THE WOMEN JUST WANTED TO WORK AND NEEDED A MARKET TO SELL THEIR SHEA BUTTER. SHE WAS GIVING THEM THAT OPPORTUNITY.

The Takpo Women in Ghana Make the Shea Butter Market Products

The Takpo Women in Ghana Make the Shea Butter Market Products

“RIGHT THEN AND THERE I ORDERED. I TOLD THEM IN ONE MONTH…CAN YOU MAKE THIS AMOUNT OF SHEA BUTTER?”

SERBEH-DUNN WAS IN GHANA FOR ALMOST TWO MONTHS AND SHE TOOK HER SON, KABORÉ. IN THREE WEEKS, THE WOMEN HAD A TON OF SHEA BUTTER.

“WHEN I BOUGHT THAT SHEA BUTTER, EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY, EVERYONE IN THE COMMUNITY PITCHED IN SO I COULD PACK IT AND SHIP IT. THERE WAS SO MUCH EXCITEMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT AND SO MUCH SUPPORT, THERE WAS NO TURNING BACK ON THIS THING.”

A MICRO-LENDING FUND HELPED THE WOMEN TO PRODUCE THE SHEA BUTTER. SERBEH-DUNN USED HER OWN MONEY TO BUY THE SHEA BUTTER AT FAIR TRADE PRICES. A PERCENTAGE OF THE PROFITS ARE PUT BACK INTO THE FUND SO IT KEEPS IT GOING.

“YOU SEE HOW ENTREPRENEURIAL THESE WOMEN ARE,” SERBEH-DUNN SAYS. “THEY REALLY ARE CREATIVE. IT’S THEIR WILL, IT’S THEIR INTEREST, IT’S THEIR BABY. I’M NOT A PHILANTHROPIST. I’M TRYING TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT FOR MYSELF AS WELL.”

SHE WAS INTERESTED IN CREATING A JOB FOR HERSELF AND THE WOMEN IN HER COMMUNITY, BUT ALSO TO BRING…CLEAN SHEA BUTTER TO NORTH AMERICA.

“I WAS NAÏVE IN THE BEGINNING,” SAYS SERBEH-DUNN. “[IT WAS HARD TO SELL]. PEOPLE GO INTO THE STORES AND BUY.”

HER CHALLENGE WAS WHOLESALING THE PRODUCTS. SHE TOOK A COURSE WITH A WOMAN IN BRITISH COLUMBIA WHO TAUGHT HER HOW TO MAKE BEAUTY PRODUCTS. SHE MET HER THROUGH THE FIRST STORE THAT SOLD HER SHEA BUTTER.

The Shea Butter Market Products Products Come in Beautiful Packaging

The Shea Butter Market Products Products Come in Beautiful Packaging

“IT WAS JUST ALL COMING TOGETHER,” SERBEH-DUNN SAYS. “I GOT EIGHT PEOPLE TOGETHER FOR THE COURSE AND WE TOOK THE COURSE AND EVERYTHING WAS COMING TOGETHER.”

ANOTHER FRIEND WHO TOOK THE COURSE IS A HERBALIST BY TRAINING. SHE HAS A MASTER’S DEGREE IN NATURAL PERFUME MAKING. SHE CURRENTLY HELPS SERBEH-DUNN WITH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT.

THEN CAME THE MARKETING. THE HEALTH FOOD SECTOR WAS THE PLACE TO GO. IF YOU GO THROUGH SERBEH-DUNN’S WEBSITE, YOU SEE AN IMPRESSIVE LIST OF PLACES WHERE YOU CAN BUY HER PRODUCT: HTTP://WWW.SHEABUTTERMARKET.COM/PURE_SHEA_BUTTTER_MARKET_RETAIL.HTM

“OCTOBER 2004 WE LAUNCHED THE BUSINESS AT THE CANADIAN HEALTH FOOD SHOW IN TORONTO,” SERBEH-DUNN SAYS.

THERE HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLE STRUGGLES ALONG THE WAY.

“OVER THE YEARS IT WAS DIFFICULT TO KEEP THAT PRETTY, PRETTY PACKAGING. NOW THE PACKAGING IS FAR MORE SIMPLE, STILL BEAUTIFUL, WITH THE SAME DESIGNER. THE MAN THAT DOES THE DESIGNS FOR THE PACKAGING IS PAUL FREISEN.

“SALES…WE STARTED OFF WELL,” SAYS SERBEH-DUNN. “TWO SUMMERS AGO I HAD TO DECIDE TO DOWNSIZE. THE BUSINESS WOULD HAVE DIED TWO SUMMERS AGO IF I HAD NOT TAKEN CHARGE. I WAS GETTING THINGS TOGETHER, BUT I NEEDED AN ADMIN PERSON. I HIRED CINDY. IT’S BEEN GREAT WITH HER.”

SHE HAS BEEN ABLE TO PAY AN EMPLOYEE FULL-TIME, BUT HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO PAY HERSELF MUCH. SHE CAN ALSO PAY HER LOAN.

“SALES COULD BE BETTER. THE RECESSION THERE WAS A DROP. WE HAD STARTED TALKING ABOUT INCREASING SALES BY GOING INTO THE GIFT SECTOR.”

SERBEH-DUNN WAS RELYING ON HER HUSBAND’S INCOME FOR HER SURVIVAL BUT THE BUSINESS PAID FOR HER EMPLOYEE. SHE NOW HAS AN AGENT IN THE PHARMACY AND GIFT STORE SECTOR. THEY RECEIVE SOME OF THEIR ORDERS THAT WAY.

GIFTY SERBEH-DUNN HAS A MA IN CANADIAN STUDIES FROM CARLETON UNIVERSITY AND A MA IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS FROM ROYAL ROADS UNIVERSITY.

“I’M FROM NORTHERN GHANA, EVERY TIME I SAW HOW THE RESOURCES IN GHANA ARE NEGLECTED JUST BECAUSE OF POVERTY. THE SHEA TREE IS A TREE OF LIFE. IT WOULD BE SO PAINFUL FOR THEM [THE WOMEN] TO CUT DOWN ONE OF THOSE TREES. WOMEN TAKE GOOD CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN THEY ARE WELL-POSITIONED.”

THE WOMEN HAVE APPROACHED HER ABOUT A TREE-PLANTING PROJECT. YOU NEED $5,000 USD TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. SERBEH-DUNN IS WORKING ON RAISING IT.

SHE OFFERS MANY EXCELLENT PRODUCTS – ALL NATURAL.  SPLAX IS A PRODUCT THAT CAN BE FOUND AT MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT COOP. IT IS A NON-CHAFFING PRODUCT.

Shea Butter Market Offers Many Products, Including Splax Available at MEC

Shea Butter Market Offers Many Products, Including Splax Available at MEC

“THEY WERE LOOKING FOR A CLEAN NON-CHAFFING PRODUCT,” SAYS SERBEH-DUNN, AND SHEA BUTTER MARKET DELIVERED.

“LATELY, I’VE STARTED TO HEAR FROM CUSTOMERS ‘AH, YOU’RE STILL AROUND – GREAT I’LL TAKE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS.’”

JUST AS WE WERE GETTING OFF THE PHONE, FRIEDA, HER CAT IS BY THE CREEK AND THE BOYS ARE OUT PRAWNING. SHE LIVES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND.

SERBEH-DUNN TOLD ME A STORY THAT ONE TIME A GROUP OF GIRLS PHONED HER AND SAID, “WE LOVE YOUR LIP BALM. IT IS THE BEST LIP BALM IN THE WORLD! WE CALLED BECAUSE WE WANT MORE.” THEY DID NOT LEAVE THEIR NAMES OR NUMBERS.

“I COULD NEVER REACH THOSE GIRLS BECAUSE IT DID NOT SHOW UP ON CALLER ID.”

ALSO WHAT SHEA BUTTER MARKET HAS IN THE WORKS IS BEING PART OF A FUNDRAISING CATALOGUE. THE CATALOGUE SELLS PRODUCTS AND SOME OF THE FUNDS GO TO THE SCHOOL.

“THEY WANTED GOOD STUFF, SO THEY CAME TO US,” SAYS SERBEH-DUNN.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SHEA BUTTER MARKET: HTTP://WWW.SHEABUTTERMARKET.COM/INDEX.HTM#.

  1. […] og er svært ettertraktet på verdensmarkedet. Karité smøret er for eksempel  produsert av enke-kvinner fra Takpo i  Nord Ghana. Dette gir kvinnene ressurser nok til å stå på egne ben og […]

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