Smallholder Agriculture | July 11, 2024

Wangara Green Ventures backs Sommalife to expand market access to shea farmers in Ghana

Lucy Ngige
Guest Author

Lucy Ngige

Africa’s shea industry employs nearly 16 million women, providing a critical input to the global confectionery and cosmetic industries. Land degradation and deforestation of shea trees is jeopardizing incomes.

Ghana-based Sommalife is supporting livelihoods by linking farmer groups directly to international bulk buyers and also helping plant and protect wild shea trees. Wangara Capital Partners, also in Ghana, invested an undisclosed amount in the social enterprise to grow Sommalife’s operations, “with a special focus on women,” said Sommalife’s Mawuse Christina Gyisun.

Sommalife so far has on-boarded 65,000 farmers, including more than 15,000 who are women. 

Access to markets

In local markets, middlemen and inefficiency eat into the profits farmers generate from selling shea butter, nuts and oils. Sommalife’s software helps farmers bypass middlemen and sell directly to international buyers. It also monitors trees, provides training on sustainable farming and tracks impact.

A portion of the funding will help pre-finance producers.

Green innovation finance

Wangara’s impact fund makes equity and quasi-equity investments of $50,000 to $500,000 in small businesses in renewable energy and efficiency, waste management and climate-smart agriculture. FINCA Ventures and GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation provided earlier funding to Sommalife.