Mali is the world’s second-largest producer of the shea nut, and accounts for approximately 20 percent of the global supply of shea. But a lack of technology and modern industry means that Mali produces virtually no industrial shea butter.
Building agricultural productivity is critical for Mali, which ranked 182nd out of 188 countries on the 2018 United Nations Human Development Index. Ninety percent of Mali’s poor people live in rural areas, and drought, instability, and conflict have increased the incidence of poverty.
Mali is the world’s second-largest producer of the shea nut, and accounts for approximately 20 percent of the global supply of shea. Shea butter is used as a cocoa butter equivalent in cosmetics and in the food industry. But a lack of technology and modern industry means that Mali produces virtually no industrial shea butter. Most of Mali’s shea nuts are sold raw or processed locally into low-quality artisanal shea butter, keeping the country on the fringes of the lucrative and fast-growing industrial shea butter market. For a conflict-affected country like Mali, where over 42 percent of the population lives in poverty, this is an opportunity lost—especially for the approximately one million mostly poor, rural women who work in Mali’s shea value chain.
IFC and the Private Sector Window of GAFSP are providing a loan of €2.5 million to Mali Shi—a shea nut processing company based on the outskirts of Mali’s capital, Bamako. The financing will enable Mali Shi to build the country’s first active modern shea butter processing plant, increasing incomes for the 120,000 shea producers who supply nuts to the company. Over 95 percent of these producers are women, for whom the secure livelihood is critical, as it pays school fees for children and household expenses.
As part of IFC’s work to strengthen Mali’s ability to process shea nuts locally, IFC will offer training in business skills, finance, and management to members of 100 women-led cooperatives that work with Mali Shi. IFC will also help the company improve energy efficiency, environmental and social management, traceability of its products, and international food safety standards. IFC’s financing and technical assistance will help the company meet international standards in an industry where international quality requirements are high.