MADE Magazine Spring 2019 May 2019 - Page 49

MADEINC MADEXXX A Day in the Life of a BUTTA BOSS According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 30 percent of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50 percent fail during the first five years, and 66 percent during the first 10 years. MADE BY RAHAMA WRIGHT T he first time I learned about shea butter it was 2002 and I was an intern at the American Embassy in Ouagadougou the capitol of Burkina Faso. I was a recent college graduate and thrilled to be working in Africa. My internship was a pit stop on my way to a two-year Peace Corps service in Mali, and at the time I didn’t realize my 8-week internship would lay the ground work for the next 15 years of my life. Let me take a step back. I knew about shea butter but I didn't know where it came from. My research compiling data on women's micro enterprise in Burkina Faso revealed the importance of shea butter production. Shea butter is extracted from the fruit of the shea tree which exclusively grows in subSaharan Africa. Women in rural villages are the traditional harvesters of this multi- purpose commodity. The practice of shea butter is handed down from mother to daughter as a skill that can be used for income generation. I gathered stories of women handcrafting this amazing ingredient and quickly noticed that they rarely generated sufficient income from their labor. This stayed with me as I submitted my report at the end of my internship, and prepared to begin my service in Mali. I was assigned to work at a community health center. After 10 weeks of language and culture training, I arrived to my village ambitious to help my community. Reality hit when I noticed many women visiting the health center could not pay for medicine or health services. I soon became frustrated at the realization that any sustainable solution to community issues required income generation for many. I thought back to my internship report and decided to spend time learning more about shea butter production. After a few weeks of watching women make shea #mademaven 49