Better shea sourcing

Ethical shea

Shea is vital for the conservation of rural ecosystems. The trees grow wild in sub-Saharan Africa and help protect against climate change. Millions of women rely on the seasonal collection and sale of shea kernels to supplement their income and provide for their family needs.

We have established a solid and sustainable shea sourcing system in the region, built up over many decades, using two parallel supply chains to serve our different AAK divisions. We work in close co-operation with both traditional shea traders, and the women's groups engaged in our award-winning Kolo Nafaso program, the largest externally verified direct sourcing operation of its kind in West Africa.

See our latest shea progress report


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Understanding our shea supply base

Together with our partner, Proforest, we conducted a risk assessment of both our shea supply chains

Our priorities are to:


  • Maintain traceability to district level in the traditional supply chain every season and full traceability to the Kolo Nafaso direct sourcing program, which operates as an entirely segregated supply chain.


  • Alleviate poverty and improve health and safety among women shea collectors.


  • Protect and rejuvenate the shea parklands.



Engaging with suppliers and smallholders

In our traditional supply chain, we work closely with our suppliers and partners to drive progress on our priorities through engagement and training.

All our suppliers must adhere to a strict code of conduct covering business ethics, traceability, and labor rights.


Through our Kolo Nafaso program, we work directly with women shea collectors. First established in 2009, Kolo Nafaso is now the largest externally verified program of its kind in West Africa. Our focus is on poverty alleviation and women's empowerment through direct trade, interest-free micro-credits, and training to support economic development and improve health and safety.



Find out from our Kolo Nafaso members how the program has positively impacted their lives.

Kolo Nafaso has created new opportunities for hundreds of thousands of women shea collectors to improve their lives and livelihoods, together with those of their families and communities.


Watch the video to find out more.

Learn about the work of our extension officers on the ground in West Africa

Kolo Nafaso has created hundreds of permanent jobs in the region. We employ extension officers to recruit and support the women's groups, and our female team members, in particular, excel in building strong relationships with the women.


Watch the video to see Fuseina Abdul Rahman, our AAK Team Leader for North Yendi, explain her role and her aspirations for the future.



Driving impact beyond our supply base

We are driving initiatives within our traditional supply chain to protect and rejuvenate the shea parklands, which are under threat from increased land clearance, commercial agriculture, and unsustainable fuel use. Projects include the supply of thousands of shea seedlings and best practice training in planting and care, helping safeguard this valuable source of income and food for local communities. 


In partnership with the Global Shea Alliance, we are committed to planting 150,000 seedlings in Ghana under the Action for Shea Parkland Initiative.

Opportunities within Kolo Nafaso

Within Kolo Nafaso, we are working together with our partner Saha Global to train women’s groups in Ghana to start and sustain small water treatment units, which benefit the wider community. 


Through our Sustainability Partner Program, our customers can invest directly in targeted impact projects with the Kolo Nafaso women’s groups, such as the rocket stove training initiative.  So far, we have taught thousands of women to build safer, more energy-efficient alternatives to traditional three-stone cookers using locally available materials.




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