It all began in 1980, when Olivier Baussan, founder of L'OCCITANE heard about shea butter for the first time during a trip to Dakar and decided to establish a sustainable co-development program with the women of Burkina Faso. Its purpose? To buy processed shea butter directly from the women of Burkina Faso, who hold the secret of making shea butter, to ensure a better distribution of wealth and help the country develop.
In 2013, L’OCCITANE ordered more than 660 tons of shea butter in Burkina Faso, a 20% increase from 2012. A record significant of the success of this partnership which still has bright prospects. Better yet, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has even recognized L’OCCITANE as an “exemplary company” for its action taken in the shea industry.
Over time this sector has become even more professional. Indeed, since 2009 it is certified Fair Trade according to the ESR (Fairness, Solidarity, Responsibility) standard by Ecocert Environnement, a French certification body of environmental management systems. This has allowed the women of Burkina Faso to enhance the value of their label to their international clients and to empower themselves over the long term. Always with a Fair Trade approach, L'OCCITANE buys its processed shea butter at a price 3.5 times higher than the local market in order to contribute to the country’s economic development.