Shea Butter Enterprise: Launching & Scaling a Women-Run Business in Rural Ghana

2011 Production by Hand

2018 Production by Machine

In 2011 Ripples launched a Shea Butter enterprise in rural Ghana.  The global demand for Shea Butter paired with the existing skills of the local women made it a logical product choice.  But we needed a local influencer to get the women onboard.  

Our first hire was Madam Rabi, a local woman with expertise in Shea Butter who also had strong community ties.  Through her, a movement was born and quickly 1,200 women were signed up for the start-up business.

Ripples trained the women on grading and classifying Shea Butter, and how to produce and sell it domestically and internationally.  Later, through funding provided by the UN, fair trade and organic certifications were secured connecting the women to more global markets.  This led to further funding from our donor base to expand manufacturing capabilities across two plants.  

Together with Madam Rabi, our donor partners and the local women,  the Shea Butter business has grown to serve over 9,000 women and 45,0000 children.  

Who: Madam Rabi

Madam Rabi


  • Single mother, 4 kids, lived below the poverty line but made shea butter to scrape by
  • Most women in her area could not afford to start a shea butter business, struggled even more and could not send their kids to school


  • Ripples hired Madam Rabi as the team lead to help them start a Shea Butter co-op


  • The co-op grew to 7K women and exports across Africa and Europe
  • Madam Rabi sent all her kids to school; the eldest just graduated and has a job
  • She is a respected community. leader and role model – even meeting with the Ghana VP
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