One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative

One Village Planet--Women's Development Initiative is a global-thinking, village-acting, environmental, educational, and humanitarian organization focused on sustainable development projects for rural women in Haiti and Ghana. Our approach is centered on a belief that solutions to the problems of access must be self-sustaining if they are going to succeed. Community support and involvement are integral parts of our vision.
Mar 28, 2013

We just made our first collective sale! Drumroll please...

The documentary film crew with some of the women.
The documentary film crew with some of the women.

As spring comes to the North East and we all anticipate warmth and growth, in Northern Ghana, where our One Village Planet’s Just Shea program is housed there are already crops in and women participating in our Collective.

Let us give you some back-story. A few years ago, our founder Danielle Warren, traveled to Ghana in the hopes of finding sustainable crops that could be imported to the dry Northern region of Haiti where she was working. Instead she found a grand, sustainable crop in the shea trees, which produce shea nuts. This crop is a growing, world-wide commodity. (It's probably in your shampoo!)

Although it is not importable to Haiti, as the shea trees grow wild and take 25 years to start fruiting, what Warren and partners did was to form a cooperative to help the shea harvesters in a tiny village called Gushie.

The women harvesters are often bitten by poisonous snakes, as they have no protective gear. No boots, no gloves or gear to protect shoulders and heads. So we decided to create a cooperative to encourage harvesters, all of who are women, to get a full set of protective gear exchanging the gear for shea nuts.

Last spring we reported to you that we had spent a month building a cooperative silo, a 16 by 60 foot structure on land that our non-profit One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative purchased along the main North South road in Ghana. The structure is called the Gushie Women’s Shea Nut Collective and those women began both storing their own crops in the facility and charging others to utilize the storage area. (Smart women!)

By delivering protective gear we increased the safety and size of the harvest. And by aggregating the crops, storing many women’s harvest together, we posited that we would radically increase the price women garnered for those crops. They would no longer be sitting by the side of the road selling small amounts and thus they would save time and buyers, multinational buyers, would begin to know that the Gushie Collective offered top quality, safely harvested crops and it could be found well stored and easily accessible.

Well it turns out...we were right. And this past week, when Founder Warren was on site in Gushie the first payment to the women harvesters was distributed. Our crop was purchased by a socially responsible buyer and as a result we were able to distribute double the usual amount of payments to the women.

This literally doubled their income from last year.

We had a film crew following Danielle and the collective right at the time when this first payment was distributed and the trees were starting to fruit. (A filmmaker from the US was asked to create pilots about ordinary women doing extraordinary things, and Danielle and Just Shea were chosen.)

Further the women have targeted doubling the number of bags they harvest. And this may well be possible because the protective gear increases the speed and efficiency of the harvest and it increases the time the women can spend working in the field.

The members have all expressed excitement with the outcome of the payments and are now challenging each other to further increase the harvest amount. To that end there will be a completion: first, second and third prize to see who can harvest the most. Prizes include cloth, cooking oil, soap and other simple luxuries. (Want to donate to the prize fund? We'd love that!)

The women in the collective also elected a new organizer, they serve one-year terms, and we purchased a simple, dedicated cell phone so our wonderful Program Director Fatimah and we can stay in in close touch to set up meetings and facilitate programs.

We are a young program and do expect there will be many ups and downs, but this spring was a time to celebrate. We had anticipated that we would merely increase the women harvester’s income, but we went beyond that and actually doubled their income.

Pretty amazing, right?!

Thanks to all of you.

Danielle, Wicki, Fatimah and the Just Shea Program Team

It
It's harmattan. For real. There's been a bushfire.
Off to the bush to check on the shea fruiting.
Off to the bush to check on the shea fruiting.
Safia Sulemana, an early member, has a question.
Safia Sulemana, an early member, has a question.
One of the weekly meetings. Yes, it
One of the weekly meetings. Yes, it's payday!
Founder Warren speaks at Global Shea Event, Abuja.
Founder Warren speaks at Global Shea Event, Abuja.

Links:

Dec 18, 2012

We are succeeding and we want to do more, with you

Dear Just Shea family,

We write family because supporter is just not enough to express how we feel about the ongoing support you give us. That support allows us to reach out and support women shea harvesters and their families in the village of Gushie, in Northern Ghana.

Thanks to your support, the Just Shea Program is providing women in the Gushie Shea Nut Collective with protective gear: hooded raincoats, boots and gloves so they can harvest more safely, more efficiently and thus have a better crop. And, to better sell this crop, we built a spacious 16X60 silo right on the main road to town so that buyers will purchase from the Collective, thus getting the women a better price.

So this is the end of the year. And yes we are asking for another infusion of funds to help us continue our work.

WHY? Well, it's simple: We are succeeding and we want to do more, with your help.

Here is what we did in 2012:

  • Purchased an acre of land and constructed a storage silo complete with a quality control platform and fabulous roadfront signage that links to a dedicated cell phone to help increase shea nut sales
  • Expanded the Just Shea safety program to include 40 women. (There a waiting list of 100 more who want to join!)
  • We hired a wonderful local women Fatimah to work with us and we opened a tiny office in Tamale, the nearest town to our pilot village of Gushie.
  • We have been endorsed by so many African and American governmental and local groups. Here are a few: USAID, the Global Shea Alliance, West Africa Trade Hub, the Ghanaian Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, and Women's and Children's Affairs.
  • We received a generous grant from a private foundation to expand our Just Shea operations.

SO GIVE NOW, give generously if you're able. And help us expand our program to include other deserving mothers in Gushie and their families.

Happy Holidays and peace and prosperity in the new year for us all!

Wicki and Danielle and all the gang across the seas

Links:

Sep 19, 2012

Saving lives, doubling incomes. Yup, we're doing that.

Gushie
Gushie's elder, Magazia at the Gushie silo gates.

Coming to you direct from Gushie, where our Project Founder Danielle Warren has been in the field making sure all the gears and parts that are the Just Shea Program machine are well oiled and in place in preparation for the Gushie Women Sheanut Harvesters’ first collective sale.

 

In late August we had a series of inspiring meetings with the women in the collective, with the assistance of our new Program Director Fatimah Zubair—a local and long-time volunteer on the project, who has been assigned by the Ghana National Secretariat to work full time with us for her one year Term of Service. Together we determined needs and goals, and set to work over the next month to address and fulfill them.

 

We constructed a 30 x 60 foot concrete slab alongside the silo that will serve as a quality control and drying area to inspect collective sheanuts before weighing and bagging, built 20 pallets to line the silo floor and keep the sheanuts dry during storage. As well we established an intake receipt and micro-loan system that will allow each woman in the collective to take out a small loan of up to six dollars using the sheanuts she has stored as collateral, to help encourage the collective to hold out for the few months they need to wait for the price of shea to rise. Six bucks may not seem like a much, but when your total income is 20 dollars a year, it makes an incredible difference.

 

We’re full steam ahead and working to secure a buyer for the women’s sheanuts in November, when the selling price is most favorable to them.

 

Because of you, because of what we have done together, the women in the Gushie Women’s Sheanut Collective are poised to double their income this year. And, not only that, not a single snakebite was suffered among them this harvest season. Saving lives, doubling incomes…Yup, we’re doing that.

 

Now let’s all do what we can to make sure the 123 women who are on the waiting list can join us too!

 

We’ve included a few snapshots below and, just as soon as Danielle can get to a place where it doesn’t take an hour to upload a photo, we’ll be posting lots more to our Just Shea Facebook page. So make sure we’ve got your thumbs up there to get them in your feed.

 

Onward. With Gratitude.

 

Tipagaya,

 

Danielle, Wicki and the Just Shea Program Team

Strategic planning with the Just Shea Collective.
Strategic planning with the Just Shea Collective.
Masonry crew at work on the sheanut drying area.
Masonry crew at work on the sheanut drying area.
We
We're excited about the storage pallets, too.
Quality control training on the new drying area.
Quality control training on the new drying area.
Bagging Just Shea sheanuts for the first big sale.
Bagging Just Shea sheanuts for the first big sale.

Links:

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