It’s amazing the things we do when we are in love. A man will walk through fire for the object of his affection; a mother will lift a truck to rescue her child from danger; a soldier will take a bullet for his or her comrades. Crazy illogical love, driven by strong emotion makes us go beyond our natural abilities to meet the needs of another.
The love of a social entrepreneur is not so different. It is a relentless desire to see your business enterprise have a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of your most vulnerable stakeholders. It goes beyond the abstract concept of “giving back” or “doing good”. Something happens when the “object of your affection” has a face and a voice. For me it is being in the same space and sitting shoulder to shoulder with shea producers in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Ivory Coast and every West African country I have had the good fortune of visiting. Something powerful that happens when I am with the women who process and supply shea butter.
Last November our team was in Northern Ghana doing Health and Safety assessments among women shea nut pickers. We were discussing safety issues the women faced as they went about the business of harvesting nuts for resale and for shea processing. The safety issues that came up were snake bites, scorpion stings, the physical strain of gathering and hauling nuts from farm to village and the ever lurking threat of Fulani herdsmen who attack and rape defenseless women. I asked them what they feared most, thinking this would be an opportunity to prioritize their concerns and their response surprised me. Their greatest fear was not the physical dangers they faced in the process of making a living, their greatest fear was not being able to provide food and education for their children.
I see myself in them and I relate to the desires they have for themselves and their families. How different would her life be if she had an advocate to help get her goods to market so she can earn a consistent income? How would the family dynamics change if she knew that provision was made for the children’s food, clothing and education? If the financial constraints of basic needs where removed, how powerful could these women be in their communities; would they have a voice to advocate for girls; would they be able to talk young men from becoming radicalized? The ripple effects of a woman empowered is truly inspirational.
Our love drives our purpose. Shea Radiance exists for one simple reason: to influence the way women care for themselves, and for each other. At Shea Radiance, our aim is to craft products and experiences that naturally transform skin, hair, thinking, and lives into something more beautiful than what they were before. Every Shea Radiance creation uses Shea butter produced by artisan craftswomen from cooperatives in West Africa. Our women-led supply chain aims to provide a pathway for over 16 million African women picking and processing Shea nuts to care and provide for their families. We believe that we all play a role in the global legacy of womanhood, and that one woman’s success impacts the story of us all.
Happy Valentine’s Day