The Women in Shea (WISH) initiative – which will run until 2030 – aims to reach 13,000 female shea collectors from more than 150 communities in northern Ghana.
Alongside Mars and AAK, the partnership includes CARE International, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Ghanaian not-for-profit Presbyterian Agricultural Services (PAS) and Mars-backed impact investment fund, the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F).
The initiative’s goals include bringing economic and social benefits to the 13,000 programme participants and promoting environmental improvements at shea tree parklands, while also meeting growing demand for shea kernels.
WISH aims to achieve these objectives through expanding the women’s access to savings and financial credits and improving natural resource management techniques.
In addition, the project will seek to reduce the time burden and labour intensity of the work associated with shea kernel collection and processing.
AAK supplies Mars with shea-based cocoa butter equivalents for confectionery applications, and the companies have committed to purchasing the shea kernels produced within the WISH initiative for the project’s ten-year duration.
Luis Parra, global business director for chocolate & confectionery fats at AAK, said: “Mars and AAK share common business values, including a long-term commitment to sustainability.
“[The WISH initiative will]…provide sustainable shea kernels that AAK will transform into high-quality products for Mars to use in its chocolate and confectionery brands. The WISH initiative is a true collaboration effort and we are thrilled to be involved.”.