THE RESIST PROGRAM

LAUNCHED IN 2018 TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS FOR WOMEN SHEA PRODUCERS IN BURKINA FASO

A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT
For over 30 years, we've been purchasing our shea butter directly from the women who produce it in Burkina Faso. Through multi-year contracts with L'OCCITANE, these women are guaranteed a stable, long-term income, while our customers are guaranteed a high-quality product that's made using traditional methods.

In 2009, we helped our shea butter cooperatives to obtain Fair Trade certification.* In 2018, we decided to go even further and launched the RESIST (Resilience, Ecology, Strengthening, Independence, Structure, Training) program. This $2 million, three-year project goes beyond our sustainable, fair trade partnership and aims to improve conditions for the women we work with in Burkina Faso. 

Over 50% of this program is funded by L’OCCITANE. It's supported by donors such as USAID and SEQUA**, and the cooperatives themselves participated financially. We also have a partnership with the NGO NITIDAE and the Global Shea Alliance.
10,000 WOMEN WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS PROJECT


 
L'OCCITANE AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
On September 27, 2019, L'OCCITANE attended the ninth annual Business Call to Action (BCtA)*** Forum, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This forum looks at how businesses are finding ways to grow and develop while generating societal and environmental benefits.
 
Representatives from L'OCCITANE and our Team Manager from Burkina Faso presented the RESIST program, to highlight our commitment to empowering women.

"We’re thrilled to continue seeing the incredible work that L’OCCITANE has developed with the women of Burkina Faso. For decades, this project has made significant societal and environmental achievements." Marcos Neto, United Nations Development Programme Finance Sector Hub Director 

 
THE IMPACT OF OUR ACTIONS
L'OCCITANE has been recognized as an exemplary company by the United Nations Development Programme for its actions to support the shea butter industry in Burkina Faso. In 2016, a study by the UNDP showed the significant impact of our actions on the lives of the women shea producers. 

THE RESIST PROGRAM: OBJECTIVES & ACTIONS

Protect the natural resource
• Ensure the women can access certified-organic shea parklands, where biodiversity is preserved, to gather the shea nuts.
• Secure 33 shea parklands, working with local authorities. 
• Train 8,500 women in ways to protect the trees and improve production: growing seedlings, transplanting saplings, grafting, pruning out parasite-infected branches, etc.
• Ensure 100% organic production.

Improve sustainability
• Use more environmentally sustainable processes.
• Improve working conditions and the quality of the end product.
• Reduce wood fuel consumption by using waste products. 

Strengthen governance
• Ensure cooperative unions are better governed and improve their understanding of – and access to – markets.
  
Diversify women's income
• Identify new ways for the women to earn an income so they can be financially more resilient, such as producing and selling bissap juice.  

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO ACT

THE SHEA TREE IS UNDER THREAT

​• A victim of modern farming: trees are being destroyed to make way for other crops
• A risk of exposure to pesticides: if pesticides are used nearby, this could jeopardize organic certification

THE SHEA TREE MUST BE PROTECTED

• The tree provides a sustainable source of income for many women in Burkina Faso, enabling them to earn a living and improving their lives
• Shea trees help maintain biodiversity, absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and are relatively climate-resilient
 

AN EMPOWERING INGREDIENT

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in western Africa whose climate is greatly influenced by the Harmattan – a cold, dry wind that blows from the Sahara Desert and carries with it tiny particles of dust and sand, which dry the skin. 

For centuries, women have been applying shea butter to their skin – and their children's skin – to protect it against the harsh sun and winds, and keep it soft and supple. Only women harvest the shea nuts and make the butter, also known as "women's gold." Inside the shea nuts are the kernels, which are made into a paste that must be kneaded for hours to produce the famous shea butter. Today, this butter is known worldwide for its amazing beauty benefits.

But beyond its benefits for the skin and hair, shea butter is an empowering ingredient, as it provides a precious source of income for many women in Africa.

MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS OF A UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP

We purchase our shea butter directly from women shea producers (rather than through intermediaries). This maximizes local added value and helps to ensure that their skills continue to be handed down, as they have been for generations.

Each year, the price is decided by a committee of women and independent observers. It leaves a significant margin for the producers and includes funding for the development of activities such as setting up social and environmental community projects or developing ecotechnologies. To ensure that the cooperative unions have sufficient cash flow, L’OCCITANE makes an 80% down payment on orders. 

We also help the women with production, export and finding new outlets for their produce. Since 2003, we have been purchasing organic shea butter, which is more lucrative for the producers, and since 2009, the shea butter has been certified Fair Trade, according to the Fair for Life standard. 
 *According to the "Fair for Life" standard, available at www.fairforlife.org
**SEQUA: funded by the German Federal Government, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), via sequa as a part of the develoPPP.de program. 
***About CBCtA: Business Call to Action aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) – people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power in 2015 US dollars – as consumers, producers, suppliers, distributors of goods and services and employees. Find out more at www.businesscalltoaction.org