The Trade Hub attended the fourth Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum at the Andrew Young Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on April 27, joining over 54 participants, including women entrepreneurs in the agriculture and apparel sectors. Speaker Ms. Rahama Wright, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shea Yeleen, particularly captivated the audience as she shared her business experiences and tips in the international shea industry during the session on operational management, marketing and exportation of shea products.
During the session, Wright taught participants the basis of building a business, considering client needs, and ensuring product quality, and marketing your product on the market. “The three points when it comes to start your business are to decide who your clients are, develop your financial model, and build your relations,” Ms. Wright said.
Ms. Wright drew examples from her experiences establishing Shea Yeleen International Inc in 2005. Shea Yeleen sells natural shea products in the U.S. by working with and empowering Ghanaian women in the shea value chain to produce 100% organic, high quality and Fair Trade skin products. As a requirement, Wright only works with women shea cooperatives that pay their workers five times the Ghanaian minimum wage – $10 a day – which is enough to reach financial independence and cover important costs like health insurance fees and their children’s school fees, and help them join village saving and loan programs. Recently, Ms. Wright launched a campaign to bring women shea producers from Ghana to the U.S. to visit supermarkets that sell their shea products, giving these women more visibility on product pricing and revenue and the opportunity to connect with customers and tell their story overseas.
Participants received Wright’s dynamic and knowledgeable presentation with excitement and several individuals encouraged her to export her products throughout West Africa.
Since 2016, the project has been supporting the Ivorian shea organization, Filière Karité de Côte d’Ivoire in strengthening their member services and plan better branding and communications.