The collective activities of the Fair-trading Alliance directly impact 7 and indirectly 9 out of 17 SDGs


Fair remuneration for honest work is the most effective way to end poverty. Toontibo guarantees women producers a stable net wage that reaches the poverty rate*and is four times more than the net wage commonly paid.

Asking women to collect Shea nuts for industrial processing pushes women deeper into poverty and dependency.

The women from Dipaliya Women’s Association are the initiators of our current activities that led to the creation of Toontibo. The current trend towards industrialisation of Shea butter production risks removing the element of skilled artisanal labour from the value chain.  To remain in the Shea industry, women are then left with two options:  1. Migrate to cities and 2. become Shea nut collectors.  Neither option is conducive to gender equality.  The women have status as skilled Shea butter makers and have declared that this is their preferred occupation. Toontibo is determined to work with the women as Shea butter producers, not as Shea nut collectors.

Since 2019, the women of Dipaliya Women’s Association are, free of debt, 100% owner of the Shea butter processing centre, an asset with a book value of €250,000. Through the Leap into Life’s Action Learning Programme women are supported in developing (new) skills, improving their income and self-sufficiency in alignment with traditional community values.

The main issue with this SDG is that the voice of rural and traditional sourcing communities is not leading in the purpose to promote “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all”. Others decide what is good for them and how it should be organised. The Saakuba community has defined their own projects and, as shareholders of Toontibo, receives funding to work with partners they choose; partners that are willing to work with them with respect for local customs to further develop their community.

International trading in Shea is a multi-billion business, yet the women collecting Shea nuts and making Shea butter are highly underpaid living in extreme poverty. By making the community in Africa co-owner of the trading company in Europe we practice economic inclusion, by paying a fair wage for honest work we create more equal opportunities, and by returning profits made in Europe to Africa we reduce income-growth inequalities and migration.

Though this SDG seems to focus on urban communities, we are investing in sustainable rural communities; crucial for Africa and for reducing migration to the cities and Europe. Healthy rural communities are the basis and purpose for our international trading activities. Investing in healthy soil, trees and sourcing communities guarantees Toontibo customers a sustainable supply chain for their future demand in Shea butter. We believe local community farmers know best what is good for their soil and local women know best what is good for their communities. We let them tell us what is needed for their children to have a future in their native villages, and we engage with local community leaders, supporting them in taking responsibility for realizing community initiatives.
For Toontibo sustainable production is about both the use of materials and about the cash flow of money. Responsible production starts with paying humane wages for decent work and honest prices for the raw materials used in production. From Toontibo profits, investments are made to upcycle the waste from Shea butter production to fire briquettes and organic fertilizers. We are also organising a reduction of our Co2 emissions caused by international transport from Ghana. Toontibo Shea butter and the refining process are free of chemicals. Upcycling the Shea waste makes production more circular, with a potential saving of around ¼ in firewood used. Sustainable management and use of natural resources also mean we purchase Shea nuts from local farmer-collectors and plant (Shea) trees for healthy soil.

Mobilizing finance resources for the sourcing communities in Africa has been a key driver for initiating Toontibo. The Fair-trading Alliance with Dipaliya Women’s Association, Leap into Life Foundation and future partners is designed as a partnership to work on concrete issues that touch almost all SDGs. To revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (SDG17), collaborations must exceed and include the objectives of the individual partners. The Leap into Life Foundation has an interconnecting and leading role, applying holistic methods and tools for managing the alliance.


“Food on the table” is a daily concern for the people in the sourcing communities Toontibo is working with. To release this concern has been the starting point of our activities with Shea. How we are investing Toontibo profits in organic community farming creates direct access to safe and nutritious food, sustainable food production and rural infrastructure for resilient agricultural practices.
To improve the well-being of the sourcing communities is a purpose to which Toontibo has committed financially. By paying stable net wages we reduce the pressure to bring food to the table, by investing in organic community farming we enable these communities to grow, eat and sell healthy food crops. Having sufficient and nutritious food increases the health of community members, making them less vulnerable to diseases caused by chemical farming and malnutrition. We want to achieve universal health coverage by organizing health insurance coverage for the women in the production centre, their families and the village-community members.
Public education doesn’t teach people the skills they need to learn for making a living in rural areas and doesn’t teach the skills required for jobs in urban areas. The Leap into Life Foundation is running an Action Learning Programme that does. The women producers in the centre learn new skills such as how to document and administer their Shea nuts and Shea butter. The office staff is following computer courses and learning in master-apprentice relations how to take full responsibility for the management of the centre. With the expansion of our sales, we create new jobs in rural communities. People are trained on the job to grow into their roles and be accountable for their contribution to the community.
The Dipaliya Shea butter processing centre is the only facility in the village with running water, female toilets and a male urinal. The women learn about hygiene and responsible use of water while working on the job. Every evening the centre is cleaned, and waste is collected. We notice habits taught in the centre are taken into the communities.
The Dipaliya Shea butter processing centre is one of few facilities that is connected to the electricity network. We are investing in energy efficiency, though this is challenging. The use of clean, renewable energy is still a utopia when access to energy in general still is a concern.
We promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation by investing in sustainable, resilient and inclusive infrastructures such as the facility for upcycling the waste from Shea butter production to firewood briquettes and organic fertilizers. Participation in the profit of Toontibo increases access to markets and financial services for the communities.
The purpose of investing in organic community farming and planting native trees is to preserve nature by creating healthy soil and healthy food crops. By paying the women producers a stable net wage we reduce illegal logging, a serious problem that isn’t solved with current tree-planting programmes. Upcycling waste from production to firewood saves costs and trees. Sustainable use of firewood is high on our agenda and future investments for improvement are required.
Reintroducing organic community farming has a lasting and catalysing impact on the health of the soil. By healing the soil and growing organic food crops we are also healing the communities. We choose specifically to plant native trees only, preventing invasive alien species to set foot on the land. With partners such as Agro Eco. Saakuba community is developing an organic farming policy that stimulates biodiversity for a healthy ecosystem.
Peace in the community is explicitly stated by the Chiefs as one of the most important criteria for leadership in Dagomba tradition. Violence and crime are signs of disrespect for traditional community values. We build upon these traditional values. Decision making in Dipaliya Women’s Association is aligned with how the women groups organise and gather according to their tradition, which is inclusive and representative.