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.
Jun 25, 2013

Springing into Summer with Lots of Exciting News

Don
Don't you love this photo of the Magazia in Gushie

Our organization continues to grow and to set high goals and standards for ourselves and the participants in our Just Shea Program.

 

We have just submitted to USAID - at their request - to assist the expansion and replication of the Just Shea Program you have been supporting.  It improves access to safety, healthcare and education for shea harvesters and their families in Northern Ghana.  It is a tremendous honor even to be asked to apply and, so while we wait with fingers crossed, we are also celebrating that our work to date has been noticed by such an august international funder.

 

Further in that arena, we spoke at the Global Shea Alliance Conference in Manhattan. There were experts from around the world addressing issues such as establishing standards for safety and quality with this increasingly growing commodity. Earlier in the spring, founder Danielle Warren was asked to speak at a division of this same conference in Abuja, Nigeria.

 

Danielle also spoke at a Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale and the co-founder of our social business arm (Just Shea) Wickham Boyle will be addressing a group in August about social business in the beauty industry. We are attempting to utilize both our growing acumen in the fields of shea and social business to improve the visibility of the women sheanut harvesters and to grow our networks of influence and impact.

 

As a result of our growing network, photographer Adam Ottke came to Gushie, the village in Northern Ghana where our pilot program is housed. Adam took some truly stunning photographs, which we have submitted to the upcoming GlobalGiving photo competition. Stay tuned for more on that!! (They will also be available to donors through GlobalGiving this December!)

 

Our social business Just Shea, has been experiencing some much deserved notice since expanding to two more retail venues in New York in the last few weeks. Our products will now be carried at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen stores in Manhattan and in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

 

Since our last report, you have helped us raise the funds to provide and distribute 25 additional sets of protective gear for the women shea harvesters who are a part of our collective program in Gushie. This gear protects them from snakebites and allows them to work more efficiently, thus garnering them a better harvest.

 

We are also in the process of training new members of the Gushie Just Shea Collective. In addition to the 50 women we now have in the program (Wooohooo!) a further 57 women have also just been trained by our in-country program director Fatimah Zubair. The training allows women to harvest more safely and to store and sell a higher quality product!

 

Another huge place of pride for us is that, as a direct result of the collective silo, the harvesters were able to DOUBLE their earnings this past spring. As our fundraising efforts continue both on GlobalGiving and in future in-person events, we aspire to give protective gear to an additional 100 women who have signed up for the program.

 

Join us in celebrating our work and perhaps take a moment to enjoy a short, 2 minute, film produced by our young, and oh so talented intern Isa Goldberg as part of her high school senior project.

 

We are ever proud of all the women who grace us with their energies, passion and prodigious talents.

 

With Gratitude,

Wicki, Danielle, Fatimah, Lucy, Isa and the Gushie Just Shea Collective

 

Stay Tuned for the Global Giving Photo Competition
Stay Tuned for the Global Giving Photo Competition
Ottke Photographs of Some of the Kids in Gushie
Ottke Photographs of Some of the Kids in Gushie
Just Your Average Toy in Gushie.
Just Your Average Toy in Gushie.
Aren
Aren't these Ottke prints just incredible!

Links:

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:

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