Sundial Brands, a leading beauty manufacturer and owner of Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, and Madam CJ Walker products, does more than providing high-quality beauty products with ethically sourced ingredients. They are making strong strides in changing the lives of women one community at a time.
After not being able to return to his home of Liberia due to a Civil War, C.E.O. of Sundial Brands, Richelieu Dennis, started the company with his college roommate and mother in 1992 by becoming street vendors in Harlem. Richelieu wanted to fulfill an untapped market that was unmet by mainstream beauty brands to deliver ethically sourced and cruelty-free beauty products. The Shea Moisture brand is rooted in the C.E.O.’s strong African cultural experience and beauty recipes passed down to him from his grandmother, Sofi Tucker. His grandmother crafted artisan shea butter soaps, salves, and a variety of other shea butter-based skin care products to sell to as a means of supporting her family in Siera Leon.
It is Shea Moisture’s mission to leave the world a better place in which they have found it and the company is making significant strides in doing so. Unfortunately, the current shea butter industry in Ghana is highly unregulated and many women often times sell their shea butter-based goods way less than what they’re worth due to the desperate need of making income to purchase their necessities. Since 2013, Shea Moisture has invested $820,000 in 15 cooperatives in their supply chain partners in Ghana and Jamaica. Shea Moisture’s program creates opportunities for social and economic empowerment of the communities that they are involved in. Their program focuses on and encourages entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, education, and wellness. The cooperatives use raw materials that are located around the surrounding areas in order to craft the highest quality products. Shea Moisture buys virgin shea soap and African black soap from these cooperatives in Ghana that they use as the base for their body products and soaps. With this community commerce program, women get to set their own schedules, as they are independent entrepreneurs, and take home an ethical wage that’s 3 times higher than Ghana’s current minimum wage.
Shea Moisture invests in equipment and training for the group so that they can safely increase production. The community commerce program creates a more safe, clean, and a highly efficient work environment. Because of the improved conditions that Shea Moisture’s community commerce program has set in place, the local women of Ghana are able to continue the traditional way of making shea butter-based products, just as grandmother Sofie did in Sierra Leone, but in a more energy efficient and modernized way.
Some of the women in the community commerce program act as direct liaisons with the independent buyers who are interested in their products. These women are given the luxury of being able to negotiate their prices. The cooperatives receive a royalty payment for every product purchased through any of Sundial Brand’s Community Commerce program. This beneficial program assists the local women of Ghana to support their families, empowers them through their work, and assists with breaking them out of poverty. In addition to all of the great opportunities that the women have gained, they are able to reinvest in their own personal businesses, are able to make advances with the community’s education system for their children, and are able to improve their overall living conditions. According to Shea Moistures public relations representative, “Because of our investment in these cooperatives, school enrollment in these communities is up from 37% to 97%. Registration for health care has increased from 48% to 99%. Now, more than 14,500 households are benefiting from increased incomes and access to fresh water.”
In order to improve the current conditions of communities, Shea Moisture understands that it is crucial to empower women through long lasting entrepreneurial and community development programs for the local women of Ghana and their communities. When you buy a Sundial beauty product from Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, or from Madam CJ Walker brand, you are not just improving upon your current beauty needs, but you are assisting with improving the overall well being of a community and breaking the cycle of poverty.
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