Butter for Life: Empowering Rural Women by Enhancing Income though the Production of Shea Butter and other Related Products

Butter for Life: Empowering Rural Women by Enhancing Income though the Production of Shea Butter and other Related Products

Organization type: 
for profit
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The core idea behind this project is to reduce the maternal mortality in the Region of Doba (Southern Chad) which is the highest in the Sub-Region (around 800 deaths out 100 000 births) by generating income at local level through the production of shea butter. This generated income will help in putting in place primary health infrastructures and provide training to midwives. Chadian are not really benefiting from this popular product that is shea butter, even though its quality is among the best. Currently, the shea butter industry in Chad does not meet the demand expressed by international and even local markets. Like in many other african countries, the sector is dominated by rural women with many years of experience and knowledge. However, many women lack resources to be successful.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Chad in general depends on more than 80% on agricultural activities. Its economy relies on farming products, livestock, picking and very few from industry (sugar, brewery, cotton, oil). The Logone Oriental is one of the rare regions of the country that benefit from a favorable climate and vegetation to sustain rural livelihood through different activities. Therefore, nomadic herders tend more and more to settle there. The region doesn’t have any industries except the oilfields at about 40 km from the city Doba. The overall population of the region increased from 400 000 in 1993 to nearly 800 000 in 2009 according the national census. This increase in the population has already been noticed with the launch of the oil project in 1998. The migrating workers have added to the number. The Government have pointed out and insisted on local labor, which have provided work for hundreds (about 2 000) among the local population. From farmers, many reached a salary three times or even more, superior to the national average. People were not prepared to this change, and therefore new attitudes emerged. Many families split, the rate of AIDS increased, many have abandoned their farming activities, etc. However, the fever of the oil era dropped just after two years. Meantime, the project has occupied over 3 000 hectares, removing all vegetation. The agricultural lands decreased, and even some villages have been entirely relocated. The euphoria of the project faded and people made their difficult return to the reality. In all this, women paid the heaviest price, as they have all the charge now to support their family. With a background in environmental studies, I could sense the situation when I started my job in 2002 as Field Engineer with a Canadian company for ExxonMobil. I launched in 2003, an association named “Rural Act” that would enable communities in the surrounding of the oilfields to enhance their income and to preserve their natural resources. However, after I resigned from my job i had to face funding issues to support our different activities. Over the years, I gained in experiences with the better understanding of the local situation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The commercial exploitation of shea butter in Chad is very limited because of a lack of organization of the sector, even though the product is highly appreciated locally. Our project considers the local women as partners and owners in order to allow them taking full advantage of it. The overall objective of the project will focus on: Choosing best quality nuts and conserving them; Choosing proper production method and equipments; Launching a line of natural cosmetic products; Marketing the different products at local level and looking for partners in the world of cosmetics; Implementing restoration units; tree nurseries, reforesting, etc.; Training for midwives.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

As entitled, the project aims to empower rural women in the region of Doba by generating income with the production of shea butter, and then put in place a system that will improve women health and awareness on maternal mortality. In Chad, many women deliver their children alone or with untrained attendants, which explains the very high maternal mortality ratio. Most deaths and disability result mainly from delays in recognizing complications, reaching a medical facility or receiving quality care. This situation is very common in all rural settlings and even in some cities like Doba. Even though the region is the one that generates the highest part of the national budget with its oil, local populations face serious deterioration in their livelihood. Not only the oil-generated resource is not consequently reinvested in improving life conditions of the local people, the oil project is devastating the vegetation in this part of the country considered to be the green lung of Chad (the Sahara desert covers more than half of the northern part of the country). Therefore, the project will focus not only on the production of the shea butter, but also on the sustainability of the resource. When the local population will realize how this particular species is improving their livelihood, they will be eager to act for its preservation and even increase the population the stock through tree planting. In summary, the project will help produce good quality shea butter and other related products like soap, to be sold locally and may be internationally too. This will improve the local women income, and will allow them to have basic health services and also provide midwives training. Therefore, the interest toward the species will grow higher and will facilitate raising awareness for preserving the species.
About You
TerreMatic Consulting SARL
About You
First Name

armand nekar

Last Name


Facebook Profile
About Your Organization
Organization Name

TerreMatic Consulting SARL

Organization Country

, LR

Country where this project is creating social impact

, LR

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

I love this statement from Martin Luther King Jr. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”. When I look around me, I could see that many children do not have the opportunity I have. They can barely have a meal a day, not talking about going to school even if it’s their deepest wish. What is the purpose of my life if I don’t act? Why shouldn’t I reinvest back my talent to brighten others life? I know that my country is not poor, but rather the mind of its people. When I visited other countries like Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso or Senegal, I can say without any doubt that we have much more resources than most of them. But yet, all these countries are far ahead of us, simply because they have people that really act. I am sure that Chad has men and women that are doing their best to improve the situation, but may be it’s not enough or wrongly done. I fled my country twice as civil war refugee, and have experienced hunger. I know what it is to not have a shelter, and what it is to be hungry for days. My dream is to see Africa feeding itself and why not the rest of the world too. But the idea to have a project that will combine the production of shea butter and other related products to midwives training came after a moment of footage of our activities. In fact, one of the trainees (Salomene) had to hand her task to another woman of the group in order to go take care of a mother that came with her baby for medical care (see the video).

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

In 2005, when we launched our first training session in three villages around Doba, we received several invitations from other villages that wanted to benefit from our program. The local chiefs expressed to us their gratitude and their will for our program to not simply stop there, but that we should evolve in partnership. Our enterprise signed a partnership commitment with three local women organizations for financial and technical assistance. The success of this program relies on the interest that the local populations have for traditionally made soap and shea butter. Many understand the consequences of imported products like lightening lotions. For them, it’s the opportunity to value local products, and show their interest in buying them. Our products are preordered, and we run out of stock as soon as we finish the production process. Salomene, One of the project members who is nurse has a small building where she lives and uses it as medical center. She is overwhelmed by the demand for assisting women in delivery. She works in the morning at the single hospital of the city, afternoons and weekends she works at home and ready at anytime to respond to emergency cases.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

First Year
Field investigation in identifying needs of rural women and existing women associations
Training from choosing best quality nuts to processing shea butter
Marketing program to reach potential customers in major cities in anticipation of building our network
Second Year
Trading at local level of our products
Midwives training session
Identifying partners in Nigeria for bottling and processing lotion and cream
Establishing partnership for exportation of the Chadian shea butter
Third Year
Build our first maternity hospital
Launch the first Chadian cosmetic line to be sold abroad
Concretizing our partnership for the exportation of shea butter

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The current major problem in Chad is communication. Especially during the rainy season from May to October, many communities are disconnected from others because of impracticable roads. It becomes therefore very difficult to collect the nuts and transport them to one center to be processed. For that reason, we have decided to have processing units in five or more villages. These villages will collect the nuts and process them at local level. That’s also the whole idea behind our training sessions. The production period of shea fruits is between June and July, so all the process will lead us to October and November, a favorable moment because that’s the beginning of the dry season and roads are somehow practicable.
The second big issue is about packaging. Since 2009, the Chadian Government has forbidden any use of plastic bags, which is a hindering situation if we think on how we will wrap our products (butter, soap) to be sold locally. For the beginning we will be using recycled bottled for butter and paper boxes for soaps, but we are managing to work with potential partners in Nigeria for the packaging materials.
For the midwives training, one the issues that could arise is professional assistance. We will need professionals and also materials for the training. We assume that after launching our products we will be able to purchase the basic tools, and we plan to work closely with the Regional Hospital of Doba.
Our advantage is that we are dealing with a known and appreciated product (shea butter) that simply lacks on the local market on one hand, and on the other we are addressing a very persistent issue. Otherwise we would have to deal with the reluctance of local chiefs, husbands, and even women.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have signed a commitment agreement with three local women organization to support them in their activities, mainly in the transformation of non-woody forest products. We provide training and logistic supports in their production process. These women are our base and we support them as we can according to our budget. So far, we haven’t established a contract for the generated income because we estimate it to be insignificant. Our first objective is to strengthen the network, and let these groups of women understand that there could be a good reward in processing shea butter if they put their energy into it and are serious and honest. We are not dealing with products that can be picked and sold away, but we are dealing with a natural resource that can be depleted as quickly as people lose hope on their livelihood situation. If we think on a long term, then we should show the positive impact of the production of shea butter. That’s the reason we are combining it with the most crucial issue at the moment that is maternal mortality.

Some local Institution are ready to give us support in this project according to their mandate for the sustainable development of the region: Africare, World Vision, the Regional Government, etc.

For the export we are in contact with a young Chadian in France who is waiting for the approval of her cosmetic line. She has the Chadian shea butter tested is very satisfied of the results. One of our staff members will attend a cosmetic fair in Munich the next month. It will be an opportunity to discuss about different perspectives for the project.

Explain your selections

Friends and Family: when we launched our association in 2003, we relied on friends and family through subscription and generous support. They know what we do even though they don’t see an immediate success they continue to support us until today with TerreMatic Consulting SARL.
Individuals: these are generous people that trust in what we are doing and believe in the necessity to act for sustainable development of the region. Some individuals offer financial support or logistic like for example making available their cars for our transportation in remote villages.
NGOs: We haven’t received any written agreement yet with some of the major NGOs, but we have promises. However, we have received logistic support from World Vision. CARE International also supports us by offering us small contracts to our enterprise.
Regional Government: Likewise the NGOs, we are negotiating with the regional Government through its Institution that reinvest 5% of the oil revenues for the development of the Region of Doba. They have been mainly on building infrastructure, but we have received the support from the Prime Minister that introduced us to the Institution and insisted to have us as partner since we are the single local institution that acts in the domain of sustainable development with on-field actions.
Customers: TerreMatic Consulting SARL is for-profit organization and we rely on our activities to support some of the projects we implement. Also, this particular project has the goal to produce and sell shea butter and other related products.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Now that we have realized what shea butter is worth on the International market, we will put our energy and will focus on key strategies to develop the project. First we will match the interest of the local populations to our goals by strengthening our partnership. Through our training programs, we will let them know that the sustainability of this important resource relies on them, and that we will do our best to support them. We absolutely need to build our marketing network and avoid any break in the supply. We will realize video documentaries for the national TV on the matter and other environmental issues in exchange of few advertising (knowing that very few TV shows on natural resources management exist).

People in Chad know about shea butter, and it is commonly used in its crude form as moisturizer for hair and skin. Our marketing will target potential clients (women essentially) and let them know that we’ve heard their complain of not being able to have a regular access to the product. Of course, our intention is to be able to export the crude shea butter not later than the third year, however this project aim is to make Chadian benefit from this resource first. Surely, it will also help us funding our research for international connections. Our international connection, if successful, will impact our production. With our current contact in France we will look at the option of launching our own cosmetic line for the international market with the option of online shopping.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.




Lack of skills/training


Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Our project will create employment at different level: from the picking of nuts to the processing of the butter, and through the selling of the products. People from the surrounding of our target villages will have the opportunities to sell their nuts to our project. Local sale centers will be put in place to supply our products. For good quality nuts, we will provide training on how to choose and conserve them and techniques of processing shea butter according to the international standards. The skill of traditional midwives will be improved in our target villages to increase their competences.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services



Grown geographic reach: Global

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Our project will create employment at different level: from picking nuts to the processing of the butter, and through the selling of the products. People from the surrounding of our target villages will have the opportunities to sell their nuts to our project. Local sale centers will be put in place to supply our products. For good quality nuts, we will provide training on how to choose and conserve them and techniques of processing shea butter according to the international standards. The skill of traditional midwives will be improved in our target villages to increase their competences.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

At this point of our project, we have very limited collaboration, but very interesting promises of partnership. With World Vision and CARE international, we have been able to provide logistic support to the women associations. In 2005, we have been able to collaborate with the University of N’Djamena in gathering data for their studies of the different varieties of shea (Butyrospermum parkii). In return, we had access to their database that allowed us to identify potential villages. Today, we hope on the collaboration of the Government through its local institution to confirm the importance of our project and to open doors for partnership with International Institutions.