Shea butter, Africa’s next big business

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Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Shea butter, a common ingredient for cosmetics and food products now a commodity in high demand with women being at the centre of the trade.
  • Global Market Insights Inc, projects Shea butter market revenue to cross $2.9 billion by 2025.
  • There is already a high demand for the product in Tanzania with women entrepreneurs urged to take advantage of the market.

Shea butter, a common ingredient for cosmetics and food products is now a commodity in high demand with women being at the centre of the trade as consumers and suppliers.

Global Market Insights Inc, projects Shea butter market revenue to cross $2.9 billion by 2025.

It further indicates that “Middle East and African Shea butter market is expected to register 10 per cent compound annual growth rate from 2019 to 2025, driven by rising dependency on African countries for Shea butter exports.”

Cosmetics

There is already a high demand for the product in Tanzania with women entrepreneurs urged to take advantage of the market.

“Shea butter, a basic ingredient for production of cosmetics is currently in high demand in Tanzania and our (Nigerian) women exporters got a lot of orders,” an official from Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr I.B. Yaro, said during an August 20 webinar on Promoting African Trade Partnership: Nigeria – Kenya Agribusiness Export.

Agribusiness was identified as a highly lucrative business for women owing to an existing and expanding market in the form of growing population across Africa and the globe.

Business Women Network

“Agribusiness is a serious opportunity for cross-border trade and this is an area women can invest in,” said Bidco Africa, chairperson Mr Vimal Shah during the same webinar jointly organised by Commonwealth Business Women Network-Nigeria and Commonwealth Business Women Network-Kenya.

 “Agri-produce will always have a market because people are always eating. The next billionaires in Africa will be farmers,” he added.

He said projections of food and consumer products hitting close to a trillion US dollars promises a sustainable trading for African entrepreneurs especially women since they are largely represented in farming.

Intra-Africa trade

Processing of the farm produce, he said, is paramount for the women entrepreneurs to increase their competitiveness in the regional and international market.

Even as women would seek to take advantage of the intra-Africa trade, logistical challenges will impede their penetration into the continental market.

Mr Vimal noted that it is cheaper to import from the Asian countries than from the African countries due to absence of logistical connectedness.

“If you look at the intra-Africa trade route, it is very long (thus) too expensive,” he said.

Trade barriers

“If I bring a container from China into Mombasa, it will cost $600 (Sh64,980) to $1,000 (Sh108,300) per container but if I ship a container from Mombasa to Nigeria, straight into the port of Lagos, that would cost $4,000 (Sh433200),” he added.

He advocated for removal of trade barriers to ensure women take full advantage of the business opportunities within the African continent.

In 2019, the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an agreement that promotes intra-Africa trade.

Institutional support 

So far, 30 African countries have ratified the agreement making it easier for countries to have multilateral dialogues on removing trade barriers including tariffs, levies, logistical barriers, harmonising quality standards and establishing a continental customs union to streamline trade.

Secretariat of AfCFTA, mandated to oversee realisation of the agreement, has already been constituted with a $5 million institutional support from the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

Commonwealth Business Women Network-Kenya Chairperson Ms Nana Wanjau said for women entrepreneurs to reap the fruits of AfCTA, their challenges in access to finance have to be addressed.

She, however, urged women entrepreneurs to leverage on government-private sector procurement opportunities in the commonwealth to grow their businesses.