The Swiss Ambassador visits Shea enterprises in Tamale

As part of the Swiss Embassy’s strategy to promote private sector development in Ghana, Her Excellency Simone Giger visits three female owned shea enterprises in the Northern Region of Ghana that are supported by the ILO programme Producitvitiy Ecosystems for Decent Work

Article | 30 November 2023
This month, H.E Simone Giger, the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Benin and Togo visited three shea enterprises - Yumzaa, Asheba and Maltiti in the Northern Region of Ghana. The enterprises were implementing enterprise improvement ideas and achieving good results following their participation in a productivity improvement training programme. Factory coaching is on-going, delivered by a national shea expert, while the enterprises received processing equipment to enhance productivity and quality of their shea butter products. The visits to each enterprise were orginised to witness first-hand, the results following implementation of initial programme interventions.

H.E Simone Giger, the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Benin and Togo with workers from Asheba Enterprise in Tamale

In her remarks at Yumzaa enterprise, the Ambassador told the workers and managers that they had earned their recognition and respect as hardworking women and congratulated them in their industry. She expressed her delight regarding the large numbers of women employed in the sector.

When we were designing this programme, we had to decide on which sectors to support, and Switzerland insisted on selecting shea because it is a sector that is dominated by females and would improve their livelihood and local economic development."

H.E Simone Giger, the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Benin and Togo.

The enterprises spoke in-depth with the ambassador about their experience, and the benefits derived so far from the programme for their businesses, families, and communities.

If I had received this training a year ago, I would have passed my Fairtrade certification audit."

Ms. Ayisha Fuseini, the CEO of Asheba enterprise

According to Ms Fuseini, the training has drastically improved their factory working practices and she expressed the likelihood of passing the up-coming Fairtrade certification audit thanks to the advice and training provided.

The entrepreneurs voiced their concerns about issues that were affecting production of the sector in general. These were specifically the rising cost of electricity and water. They requested the programme to support them to drill boreholes for water necessary in their production processes, find solutions to the management of waste, and importantly to help them obtain organic and conventional Fairtrade certification and improve market access.

Mr. Onoma Asiedu, the ILO Project Officer indicated that the team were looking at the practicalities of introducing a solar energy system to reduce the over-dependence of electricity from the national grid and reduce the use of wood as fuel. On the issue of access to market, he explained that international buyers were not just interested in buying products but also interested in buying from enterprises with ethical and sustainable production practices and decent working conditions for their employees. He emphasised that these issues are being addressed by the programme, including to enhance market opportunities for enterprises.

On Fairtrade certification, Mr. Asiedu explained that enterprise improvement trainings were aimed to improve practices and compliance to international standards, which would improve chances of certification. He also mentioned that the programme may consider co-financing mechanisms to support enterprises in this quest. Regarding the issue of managing waste, he said that the project was exploring the construction of biodigesters.

There is much work to do to elevate working practices and the lives of the women working in Shea. We believe that our efforts are already showing fruits and looking at future endeavours of the programme – we are on the right track."

Onoma Asiedu, National Project Officer, Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work Ghana

The Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work is a global multi-country programme initiated by the ILO in 2021, with operations in Ghana, South Africa and Vietnam. It is funded by the governments of Switzerland and Norway and seeks to promote productivity growth for decent work, combining different approaches that strengthen productivity drivers across policy, sector and enterprise levels.

Find out more about one woman's experience running a business in the Ghanaian Shea sector.