Now the largest importer of traditional shea butter from West Africa, L’Occitane‘s work with the women of Burkina Faso was recognized as outstanding by the United Nations in earlier this year.
In one of the poorest countries in the world, the Burkina women represent 52% of the total population and play a key role in the economic and social life of their country.
In 2012, L’Occitane purchased 550 tons of shea butter, a record amount, and pays for the product in advance.
In the early 1980s, the French beauty brand’s founder Olivier Baussan met with the women, who would introduce him to the now iconic shea butter ingredient.
More than a commercial partnership, L’Occitane Foundation ensures that the women reap the full benefits of the collaboration, receiving a fair wage.
And during dry spells, the company supports their economic emancipation during the off-season through the development of literacy centers and micro-credit programs.
“Today, this recognition of our action by the UN is proof of the value of the partnership set up with the women of Burkina Faso 30 years ago. The shea tree is what binds us to these women, but it has also paved the way for their economic emancipation.”
— Olivier Baussan
[image via L’Occitane]