The Technology Intervention
• The development and implementation of Rural Sourcing Management (RSM) and MicroLoan Management software to be used by the MFIs.
• A new and updated version of RSM is implemented every Shea season to continually improve the system. The new system uses smart phones in the field to receive nuts, butter, record loading, and track payment information.
• Rural Sourcing Management is a traceability tool, where a tag is placed on each sack of shea nuts: a sticker with the details of each woman who is selling the nuts is attached, including her group, community, warehouse, name and unique ID number. The tag also has a barcode which is then scanned by a mobile phone. Information is automatically loaded into the RSM program. All data can be seen in real time on a RSM desktop application, where payment information is organized and tracked for each woman.
• Equipped 265 groups with mobile phones to receive price and logistics information with Essoko.com
Number of women: 15,000 *
Number of women’s groups: 716*
Nut collection areas: Gushegu, Savelugu, Karaga, Nanumba North, West Mamprusi, Bole, Sawla South and North, Tuna East and West, Bolgatanga
Spoken dialects: Dagbani, Komkomba, Manpurli, Dagaari, Wale, Frafra, etc.
Financing of women Groups: two local microfinance institutions, Grameen Ghana and Maata-N-Tudu
* As per September, 2014
The Initiative 2009- 2014
The Shea project in Ghana was the first joint field initiative of the partnership between SAP and PlaNet Finance to create sustainable business models through access to micro-finance, education and information technology.
PlaNet Finance and SAP combined their supply chain and development expertise to create a value chain reinforcement program, in partnership with two local Ghanaian micro-finance institutions (MFIs), Grameen Ghana and Maata-N-Tudu.
What has the initiative brought to the women of Northern Ghana?
1. Organizing shea nut & butter producing women into producer associations and village groups. Facilitating the functioning of those associations, and establishing a shea network.
By helping women in remote villages to form village, community, and district level producer associations, the program empowers the women to run and manage their own business entities. This allows the women to sufficiently aggregate their shea products, benefit from economies of scale, and sell their bulk shea products with the help of StarShea Ltd. to local and international purchasers. The incentive to work on this topic resulted in the creation of the StarShea Network.
2. Facilitating the improvement of shea product quality, while increasing women’s processing safety and productivity through training programmes.
Large quantity purchasers of shea nuts and butter, as well as shea industry experts, have been consulted to set up a training program. This program targets the key quality concerns that shea producers and large purchasers had. This training focuses on specific investments in women’s safety and critical processing techniques that make vast improvements to shea product quality at all stages of the process.
3. Effectively linking up the women’s shea products with the market.
Through the creation of StarShea Limited the efficiency of the shea supply chain has been strengthened.
4. PlaNet Finance works with local microcredit partners to provide adapted financial services and loans for the women to enable them to purchase the equipment they need, pay NHIS premiums, and stabilize their income throughout the year.
In order to ensure that women groups have access to the input and equipment they need to make high-quality shea products in the most efficient way possible, PlaNet Finance is working with two local non-profit organizations, Grameen Ghana and Maata-N-Tudu, who will offer loans and other services to the women’s groups. Through stable buying contracts with purchasers of the shea nuts and butter, the women will be able to repay their loans with their generated income, while still being able to comfortably provide for the needs of their families.
5. SAP works with the local microcredit partners to implement software solutions that shares information on product orders and market prices to women through mobile phones owned by the women’s groups.
SAP has developed innovative software solutions for the local non-profit organization partners. Rural Market Connect, an order management software for the StarShea Network, takes online orders placed by large international buyers and channels them through the microfinance institution’s IT hubs for transmission to the rural women’s cooperatives via their group-owned mobile phones. Along with this order information, current market information on shea nut and butter prices will also be sent to the women via mobile phones providing the women with knowledge to enable selling shea products for no less than the existing market rate.
6. Facilitation of the women’s access to health services and establishing community-level social funds to enable women to manage their financial livelihoods.
7. Drive an awareness campaign to promote the conservation, management, and productivity of shea trees. This Campaign supports women’s economic welfare and human rights through educating communities on the need to involve women in household decision making.
8. SAP Employee Engagement :
Volunteers have been obtained at SAP to help with numerous facets of the StarShea project.
This goes beyond software to include writing and editing work and social media consulting. The entire SAP family is committed to the success of the StarShea initiative, and believes in its mission.