Women in Mali

Third grinder being purchased in Mali

Teryia partnership helping business women in West Africa flourish

Teryia, a partnership between a group of women in Agassiz-Harrison and a commune in Mali, West Africa, is happy to report that a third grinder is in the works for the women, to help them in their shea butter work.

It seems like a slow process and yet when we think back to when we began working on this project, we see that things overall have gone so well.

We began in 2011, in cooperation with the women in Mali who had expressed that the thing that would help them (and their communities) the most, would be to have their own nut grinders for the work they do making shea butter. Having their own grinders to process the nuts, would save them money, time and energy, and through this, move them forward towards being more in charge of their own business. In the end, their work helps the whole commune.

At that point we discussed with Sekou (who is our contact with the women, along with Fatou, former student at the research Centre in town) how we should proceed. We all agreed that for such projects as the shea butter, everyone should work together to contribute to the cost of the grinders. So we have fundraised here in Canada and the women in Mali have also raised funds (through sales of crafts and produce, at markets). We also agreed that this partnership be about learning about each other as well. We have written letters, and we have received many photos from the people in the villages (especially when a new grinder arrives!)

We have to date, two grinders set up in two of the villages, and they have been in constant use. We have sent over funds for a third grinder and Sekou is in the process of purchasing this. Since the recent problems in Mali, the price of things like the grinders has risen dramatically, and it takes a longer to time to get them, once they are ordered. When it arrives, they will send us photos of this.

We owe many, many thanks to the people of our communities of Agassiz and Harrison, for their donations over the last few months. At out last fundraiser, which was a presentation of a film about Mali, we raised enough funds to send to Mali for the third grinder. It took some time to send it, as we waited until things had politically settled down somewhat, before wanting to do this.

We recently received from the women a sample of their Shea butter that has been processed with the use of their new grinders. It’s an amazing thing to open up this package and hold in your hands, this huge ball of raw shea butter, a direct product of the grinders in the villages. It brings everything and everyone so much closer.

We are planning now to purchase a fourth grinder, plus work with Sekou to establish that there are funds set aside to be used for any servicing/fixing of these grinders, for we do understand the practical side of this as well!

Again, we thank everyone who has donated time, energy, donations, and interest in this project.

Contributed by Anne Ehret on behalf of the Teryia group