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All Pure Nature Ventures

All Pure Nature Ventures is a privately held enterprise producing and marketing personal care products made from shea butter, an indigenous Ghanaian natural resource for body care. Founder Gladys Commey has established a development project in the northern region of Ghana in which a group of women harvest and process the shea nuts for butter. With a small group of employees, Commey manufactures All Pure Nature’s personal care products in Accra. She works with four groups of artisans in four different villages outside of Accra who make the packaging for her products. Sale of their raw shea butter provides a valuable source of income for the producers in the north. For the staff in Accra, employment with All Pure Nature also provides health benefits and assistance with their education fees. Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing from All Pure Nature in 2008.

  • A New Kind of Clean

    In August 2008, Ten Thousand Villages introduced a new line of shea butter personal care products created by artisans in Ghana. Bar soaps from All Pure Nature Ventures, and body cream from El Agbe Company Limited are made with local shea butter—processed from shea nuts and believed to have a wide range of health promotion and healing benefits. For generations, people in West Africa have used shea butter to moisturize and protect skin, to treat eczema and sunburn, as an anti-inflammatory and even as cooking oil.

    “I wanted to start with the earth,” said All Pure Nature founder Gladys Commey of her motivation in starting the company. In developing her line of body care products, Commey sought to use only eco-friendly, biodegradable ingredients. The shea butter is combined with herbs and essential oils; All Pure Nature’s products, including the soaps, contain no artificial ingredients.

    Comfort Akorfa Adjahoe, founder of Ele Agbe, explained that processing shea is a lengthy, multi-step process. After harvesting, the nuts must be sorted to remove moldy and insect-infested nuts, as well as any other organic materials. After this, the nuts are washed, cracked and roasted for one to two hours. The roasted nuts are put through a grinder, after which the mass must be kneaded, either by hand or with a mixer. This paste is then boiled, with some water added to help the oil separate from the solids. This “butter” is skimmed off and churned or stirred until it congeals. The shea butter is then ready for use in producing soap, body cream and other products.

    Both All Pure Nature and Ele Agbe provide valuable employment in Ghana. Commey works with a group of women in the north of Ghana who harvest and process the shea nuts. She is also training these women to make the soap itself, which will provide them with additional valuable income.

    Ele Agbe also works with women in northern Ghana, through the Christan Mothers Association. The association, established in 1960, helps single mothers, women whose husbands have died or who abandoned their families. El Agbe employs approximately 60 women, providing vital income for women supporting their families alone.

  • True Value of "Women's Gold"

    Ten Thousand Villages’ shea butter products nourish the skin in a unique way. Long renowned for its healing and restorative properties, shea butter has been used for generations in Africa to moisturize and protect the skin, to treat eczema and sunburn and as an anti-inflammatory. The production of these all-natural body care products also nurtures women in Ghana who harvest the shea nuts and process them into butter.

    Shea trees grow naturally on wild lands and farmlands across West Africa. Producing shea butter is traditionally a woman’s job. Often called “African women’s gold,” it provides work for economically marginalized women who often have no other source of income. Ghana, where Ten Thousand Villages’ trading partners Ele Agbe and All Pure Nature Ventures are located, is Africa’s leading exporter of shea butter.

    From June to September, fruit that has fallen from the trees is gathered from the ground. The extracted seeds are roasted, crushed and made into a thick paste, which is kneaded by hand, washed and boiled. Eventually, creamy shea butter emerges. This shea butter is then used to create a variety of body care products, including shea butter cream and soaps sold in Ten Thousand Villages stores.

    Shea Butter in a Clay Pot
    Shea butter sold by Ten Thousand Villages is carefully hand-processed, organic and fairly traded. Because the butter is made using traditional African techniques, it is natural in color and retains all of its beneficial qualities. Women package the shea butter in a handmade ceramic container decorated with a recycled glass bead. With pride they have named their group Ele Agbe, which means “God is alive.”

    Shea Butter Soaps
    Using shea butter produced in the north of Ghana, artisans in the capital city, Accra, make this oatmeal/rosemary soap. Lightly scented, this soap is made from all natural ingredients. Each bar of soap is stamped with an “adrinkra” double heart, which symbolizes the bounty of nature, and its importance in sustaining life.

    “I wanted to start with the earth,” said Gladys Commey, found of All Pure Nature Ventures, of her motivation in founding the group that makes our shea soaps. All ingredients used are eco-friendly and biodegradable.

    Added to the inherent benefits of these products themselves are the benefits to women throughout the production cycle: from those who harvest the shea nuts to those who process them into butter, make the soap and cream and package it for export. “Women’s Gold” has true value for all who touch it.