Nikki July 2008

Post: Nikki
Pick up Location: Parakou
Project Description: I would like to train 4 shea butter women’s groups with which I am working to learn to make a shea-butter based soap. The goal of this formation, which will take place over the course of two consecutive weekends, is to teach about quality control in the soap making process so that the women will be able to produce a consistent product ready for a wider market. The training will be given over 2 weekends, mostly by a Parakou-based soap-maker, with training support given by a SED PCV. This training fits within the larger scope of an ongoing project to enable women’s groups to generate more income from their shea-butter transformation activities.
Dates of Project: 2 days in July or August 2008
Number of People Involved: Directly (Leaders of 4 women’s groups): +12
Indirectly (transfer of knowledge to all women’s group members): +120

Item Number Cost
Transport for 4 Women from Bause (2 weekends x 1.000 RT x 4 people) 8 Round Trips 8.000
Transport for 4 Women from Biro (2 weekends x 2.000 RT x 4 people) 8 Round Trips 16.000
Books 13 11.310
Basins of Shea Nuts 2 7.000
Moulin Fee 1 1.000
Fire wood 400
Trainer's Fee 5.000
Total 48.710

Amount Requested: 48.710


GAD Coordinator Comments: This sounds like a great project but I think we need more specific information about the “training materials” budget. I wrote PCV a text message on 7/7 and still have not received a response.

GAD Finance: Recommend Funding. I would also agree that we need a breakdown of the training materials, as well as the food for the women's group for 2 days. However, Erin called me to say that this has been clarified for her but that there was a problem at the cyber to send these extra details. Therefore, if this information is clarified, I would recommend funding.

GAD Specialist: Agree with both comments.

Follow up: Spoke with PCV on the phone; he provided updated info for the budget. Updated the proposal in Green. Project was approved by coordinator, financial chair, and staff gad specialist.

Closing Report

Project: Training to Womens Groups: Quality Control of Karité Nuts & Shea Butter Production
Duration: Friday, July 18 2008 and Friday, July 25 2008

A. Deplacement:
Gbaoussi (for 7/18 & 7/25) 1.000/ea/aller-retourn 8 8.000
Biro (for 7/18 &7/25) 1.600/ea/aller-retourn 7 11.200
B. Theory part of Formation:
Bound Illustrative Books* 870/book 13 11.310
C. Pratique/Production:
Basines of Noix de Karité* 3.500/bassine 2 7.0000
Moulin Fees 700/bassine 2 1.400
Wood N/A N/A 600
Pump Water N/A N/A 1.000
D. Fête
Rice* 500/mésure 7 3.500
Beans* 500/mésure 3 1.500


*Receipt/Invoice Attached

** Closing Report**
Women in Northern Bénin have been harvesting nuts from the Karité tree and producing shea butter for many generations. However, in the last years a new and ever growing international demand for karité nuts, raw shea butter, and shea derivative products has been developing. This growing international market has also spurred the local markets, and both have imposed more stringent demands of quality on the kinds of nuts and butter that are delivered, even when processed by “traditional” women’s groups and methods. To empower women’s groups to enter into and compete in these growing markets—and even to keep their butter at par-level in the local marchés—it is necessary for them to be trained with quality control principles, standards, and technical methods.

Pursuant to this kind of necessary training, the above GAD small project funds were used to finance two one-day sessions on the topic of Gestion de Qualité. Most formations of this nature ostensibly take at least three days, and they “require” high fees be paid to some outside professional formateur who comes and trains the women. In an effort to have an equally effective but more affordable training, I asked a local “model groupement” who had been twice-formally trained and who is known to make quality butter to share with three other local groupements their quality control procedures. To further economize, we asked each groupement to send four women to attend the formations in Nikki rather than all women from each groupement. During the formation these women were tasked with being both les formatrices and les surveillantes de gestion de qualité for their respective groupements as a way to teach and put into practice what they learn.

I opened the first Friday’s session with a presentation on the idea of Quality Control, why it is important in this industry, and the categories of quality control analysis when done by an average shea butter buyer. The theoretical session was rounded out by the use of illustrative books and the model groupement formatrices who went into more specific details regarding nut gathering, selection, processing, and storage. The second Friday constituted the pratique portion of the training, as the women again gathered in Nikki, this time to make Shea Butter according the procedures and strategies taught and used by the modeling groupement. As compensation for their time and service, this groupement was allowed to keep the resulting two batches of butter. At the end of the training the women “fêted” on Waké.

There were a couple difficulties faced over the course of this project. The first was the difficulty in mobilizing and harmonizing four groupements (about 20 women) from different geographical locations to meet at one central site at the same time. The first attempt at this failed, and the session was rescheduled for the following week. The second difficulty was the somewhat limited control over the content of the technical part of the formations and how it was taught. As the volunteer is neither a Barriba speaker nor a shea butter expert, it was the model groupement who ran the technical portion of the training. However, the volunteer found that a little preparation with the modeling groupement, in which the procedures and objectives of the training were reviewed together, largely resolved this concern. Finally, although certificates were promised to each groupement for finishing the course, the volunteer has yet to develop a procedure as to how to follow-up on each groupement and ensure that the training information was passed on and applied at each site.

All that said, I think this project was mostly successful insofar as it emphasized quality control issues and specific strategies, and allowed a venue of exchange between these four groupements. I also think that the idea of a Quality Control “exchange” training between groupements is still more affordable and potentially just as effective as the pricey “NGO”-powered formal formations, so long as the modeling women’s group is willing, possesses the requisite respect and communicative skills, and is indeed “model” in their production of butter.

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