Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Can shea nuts help the women of Mali?


By Rainer Schwenzfeier

How can African countries earn more from their raw materials. And how can the women of Mali improve their ability to trade with buyers in the West?

Korotouma Doumbia, a 29-year-old from south-west Mali, has no education or formal skills but she manages to earn the family income. She harvests shea nuts and turns them into shea butter, a popular ingredient in many western cosmetics.

The shea tree grows wild in nearly 20 countries in Africa and Mali has more shea trees than any of its neighbours. They are often cultivated for their oil and Korotouma’s village has some planted trees, but they also harvest the wild trees further from the village. 

“The trees belong to all of us, because nobody has planted them. All the women from the village can harvest wherever they like,” she told Reuters Africa Journal.