Partnerships

The new era.

We buy high-quality organic shea butter from Burkina Faso. To do so, we work together with Agrifaso in Bobo-Dioulasso – a company that will soon be under local management. Hermann Schopferer, the founder of Agrifaso, tells us how this came about and how our joint experiment, which started 20 years ago, ended up being such a great success.

When we initiate collaborations with partners around the world, we begin a living process. A conversation that we start, let grow, and watch as it constantly evolves. When we started buying shea butter from Agrifaso in Burkina Faso in 2001, it was an experiment. Hermann Schopferer, the founder of Agrifaso, recalls: “First, WALA ordered half a container from us for Dr. Hauschka. So we shipped about ten tonnes of organic shea butter to Europe. A year later, we sold a full container to WALA and another container to a customer who had heard about the excellent quality of our goods. Today, we send about a hundred containers a year to customers worldwide – including around 1,000 tonnes of shea butter.”

And this success story is also felt locally: “In the beginning, we worked with women from a single village,” explains Schopferer. “Today, we have 150 employees at our processing plant in Bobo-Dioulasso and we work with 4,000 shea nut collectors in the region. Given that there is a whole family behind each of these women, that’s quite a lot of people who now benefit from this idea.” We are proud to have helped initiate this process.

And since we are always interested in sustainable relationships, we are invested in the company’s future. Agrifaso is currently facing a generational handover – an exciting moment that we are following closely. “I am now 68 years old,” says Schopferer. “I will sign over the majority of my shares in the company to Serge Poda, who is already running the day-to-day business, while his sister Aida Koanda is responsible for handling all exports. This would make Agrifaso not only a Burkinabe company, but a locally managed Burkinabe company. This is a rarity for an exporting company in Burkina Faso – but for us, it’s simply the logical choice: they both do an excellent job. Unfortunately, I recognise that many customers have little confidence in local managers. This needs to change.”

Things have also changed for the women nut collectors: their children were able to go to school and study, and now have access to good jobs. This was only possible thanks to their mothers’ income, meaning our collaboration was a real driving force behind local development. And the demand for shea butter continues to grow. We are therefore already brainstorming new ideas with Hermann Schopferer: wouldn't it be interesting to develop a product that also serves the local market? This is something we are now working on together.

The shea butter used in Dr. Hauschka Skin Care comes from Burkina Faso. Here, the nuts of the shea tree have been collected by women for centuries and then processed into shea butter. WALA only buys high-quality organic shea butter for use in Dr. Hauschka Skin Care formulations. To obtain this valuable product, it works with Agrifaso – a company founded by Hermann Schopferer.

A local trading partner based in Bobo-Dioulasso, a city in the southwest of Burkina Faso, Agrifaso cooperates with local shea nut collectors. Since 2019, this raw materials partner is not only certified organic, but also boasts UEBT certification. In addition to guidelines on organic cultivation and processing, the UEBT standards require certain social criteria to be met. This guarantees fair wages, health care and pension insurance for the employees. Agrifaso is also committed to children’s rights.

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