Last year, we were excited to include a new corporate partner in our clean water mission. AAK, headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, is a multinational company specializing in plant-based oils and one of the largest shea buyers in West Africa. Shea harvesting is a major industry in northern Ghana, and approximately four million women across West Africa participate in the shea industry. As you can imagine, this includes many of the women we work with in Saha partner communities.
In addition to purchasing shea through the traditional supply chain, AAK is continuously expanding its Kolo Nafaso program, sourcing shea directly from the women who harvest it. The set-up within Kolo Nafaso includes innovative pre-financing, best practices and finance training programs. According to AAK’s latest report, the company currently works directly with 321,443 women across West Africa. AAK is committed to sustainable sourcing of shea and improving women’s livelihoods in the same rural communities in which Saha works.
Initially, AAK supported the Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund, helping Saha fulfil the government free water mandate. When the free water mandate ended, we moved quickly to open our first AAK-sponsored water business in Bachado this April. Implementation officers Basha and Charity worked to set up this business with entrepreneurs Gmayenan, Poalati, and Tiboryan. Bachado, a community of approximately 270 people, previously had no source of clean water. We were told that other organizations had attempted to drill boreholes in the past but that they were unable to find viable groundwater. The new Saha water business enables the women entrepreneurs to treat the surface water from their nearby river into good, healthy drinking water. Opening day was an exciting affair, with 100% of the households coming out to purchase clean water!
One of the things we appreciate about working with AAK is that, like us, they have a long-term plan for working in rural northern Ghana. Laura Schlebes, AAK Sustainable Multi-Oil Manager, says it best:
“A partnership with Saha Global is a perfect match for AAK on our journey of improving livelihoods and empowering women through our Kolo Nafaso program. Saha Global’s simple and cost-effective technologies, long-term partnership approach, and focus on business-based solutions fit perfectly with our preferred way of working. We are excited to have partnered with Saha and are looking forward to connecting them to more women’s groups that we work with.”
Photos from Opening Day in Bachado: