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Malian Women are the Backbone of this Beauty Industry

The shea tree, which grows only in Africa and whose fruit is harvested almost exclusively by women, is emerging as a real development tool in some of the world’s poorest countries. Mali is one of the world’s leading producers of shea butter, along with Nigeria and Burkina Faso. According to the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), sixteen million African women from Senegal to South Sudan live or survive off the shea tree, mainly in rural areas. In the rural commune of Siby nearly one thousand women work at the local cooperative Maison du Karité. Demand for the product, used in particular in food (chocolate, biscuits) and cosmetics (creams), has exploded in recent years, driven by Western consumers, who are increasingly keen to buy products presented as organic or natural.