AAK has extended its Kolo Nafaso shea sourcing programme to support the growing demand for ethically produced chocolate confectionery.

The scheme already reaches 320,000 women in West Africa, representing eight per cent of the global shea industry’s workforce.

Shea is a widely used plant-based fat ingredient in chocolate products, and so demand for sustainably sourced shea is high.

AAK is one of the world’s leading shea suppliers and directly sources shea kernels from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ivory Coast, where women predominantly collect the kernels.

Within Kolo Nafaso, established in 2009, AAK purchases directly from women’s groups, ranging from seven to 400 in size, eliminating the need for middlemen. As a result, the women are empowered to invest back into their own communities. This enables them to build a better livelihood for themselves and their families.  

Women participating in Kolo Nafaso also have access to a pre-financing scheme that ensures a stable income during the leanest period of the year, avoiding a large drop in income when shea is out of season. They can opt to receive interest-free credits during lean periods, helping them to maintain their living standards throughout the year and not just during the shea kernel harvest. Members of the programme also benefit, directly or indirectly, in several other ways, including:

  • A fully ethical and transparent business relationship
  • Training in better processing and business practices
  • Tree-planting support and access to clean water
  • A segregated and traceable supply chain
  • A fully audited and verified sourcing program

Luis Parra, Global Business Director Chocolate and Confectionery Fats, said: “To the best of our knowledge, no other commercial programme empowers women on the scale of Kolo Nafaso. Our vision is to continuously improve our collaboration and expand its impact in West Africa. We also hope that our model for sustainable sourcing can be inspirational to many other companies.”