Serious Shea True Value Chain wins the Trillion Trees: Sahel and Great Green Wall Challenge on UN Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Strictly embargoed until 11.15 CEST 17 June 2021

We are delighted to inform that the Undersecretary-General of the United Nations; Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw, announced today at 10.00 CEST 17 June 2021 that Serious Shea and Clarity Coalition leader William Kwende is a winner of the Trillion Trees: Sahel and Great Green Wall Challenge. Together with eleven other winning projects and institutional support, William and his team will be leading the way to regenerate 1 million km2 of the Sahel and the Great Green Wall by 2030.

The Sahel and the Great Green Wall runs under the Sahara desert from Senegal to Djibouti. Credit for Satellite imagery: Reto Stöckli, NASA Earth Observatory

In 2020 the Malian musician Inna Modja and Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles launched a documentary to escalate the profile of the over a decade old Great Green Wall Challenge: to reverse desertification; eradicate poverty; and empower women’s roles for individual, family, and community decisions across a 1 million km2 belt of the Sahel. Only on achieving this ‘Wonder of the World’ will we have a chance of: reversing mass migration; achieving widespread peace and security; and replenishing the beauty and healing of the natural world. In January 2021, The Great Green Wall Challenge received an pledge of over 14 billion US dollars from donors including the African Development Bank, the government of France and the World Bank making up an important portion of the estimated 33 billion US dollars to achieve the Great Green Wall’s ambitions for the year 2030.

William’s project,  ‘Zero Carbon, Zero Deforestation Shea Value Chain by Serious Shea’,  has been implementing actions since 2010 to step by step incorporate local knowledge and global partners to: work towards interconnected ecovillages; provide renewable fuel and power, organic fertilizer, seedlings and other sustainable agro technologies; and replant natural parklands across 100,000 km2 of The Great Green Wall by 2030. Clean food processing centres are at the heart of the ecovillages offering women’s group shareholders the facilities and logistics to reach international markets, quality standards, and opportunities from the multi-billion dollar Shea butter industry and other commodities. William is already working in four Great Green Wall countries, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. William comments,

The opportunity that this challenge brings recognises the enormity of the task we have been working on for over a decade and the additional support required for success.

William Kwende, Founder, Serious Shea SARL

He acknowledges the outstanding support of the project partners to date – the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the government of Burkina Faso, Agritech Group, Impact Agri, the Burkina Faso Union of Women’s Shea Producers, and leading innovators from the Clarity Coalition and Long Finance.

Serious Shea works seamlessly with the global ambassador brand CLEO to optimise value chain returns to Africa from Cleo’s range of high performance face, body and hair butters, creams and lotions. Value chain financial and environmental, social and governance (ESG) data is collected by Clarity’s True Value Futures and time-stamped by Z/Yen’s  Chain Zy blockchain based technology.

Phia Jones, 16 years old. from Bath, UK, was in touch with William Kwende after the Webinar ‘Achieving Sustainability in Developing Markets‘ which  he gave for London Financial Services Club earlier this year. She is now working as CLEO Gen Z Project Developer. Phia insists,

It is up to us to create our interconnected global future. It is so important that leaders like William are out there to link up people chains through products which care for all of us.

Phia Jones, CLEO Gen Z

In the next few months Phia will be working with African leaders such as William and Nikki, CLEO’s famous Nigerian brand model, to promote CLEO true value chain to Gen Z through social media and other channels. Phia highlights that CLEO high performance Shea moisturisers are entirely organic fresh plant based and do not clog pores. Through the Serious Shea and CLEO true value chain, Women’s Groups in Africa receive at least ten times more income to lead the charge for sustainable Sahel communities. Each CLEO product is made with completely recyclable materials and also reinvests at least 3 Euros (£ 2.60) in clean energy and planting trees which is true value compared to an insignificant 6 cents (5 pence) at a carbon price of 60 Euros per tonne*.

Notes for Editors

William Kwende is a panelist on UN Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 17 June 2021 at 10.00 – 11.15 CEST How to grow Africa’s next natural wonder

Inna Modja and Fernando Meirelles Great Green Wall DocumentaryTrailer

World Economic Forum Great Green Wall Challenge; Africa is creating its own Great Wall – and it’s green

William Kwende on The World Economic Forum Uplink Zero Carbon, Zero Deforestation Shea Supply Chain by Serious Shea

More on William’s Clarity Coalition Project Serious Shea and CLEO True Value Chain Project Summary

*Carbon emissions avoided by the Serious Shea transition to clean food processing centres which do not burn any wood from the Sahel parklands (Business as Usual) are accounted and also called ‘carbon substitution’.

Serious Shea


List of the selected Sahel and Trillion Trees Great Green Wall Challenge winners out of 86 entries

William Kwende’s Story, Founder Serious Shea SARL; Founder & Executive Chairman Agritech Group

William Kwende is a leading sustainable business entrepreneur. Born in Burkina Faso, he is a descendant of the royal family of the capital of (now) Benin and works seamlessly at all levels in the most challenging circumstances. William spent over 10 years working for the UN Organisation on Migration before founding Agritech in 2005. Since its beginnings Agritech has focused on achieving Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) sustainability for the water-energy-food nexus, including by developing and training clusters of farmers in the West African Sahel though to global trading. Agritech subsidiary Golden Organics Global is a shareholder in the Serious Shea production company and also owns the Cleo Shea cosmetics ambassador brand. William created Burkina Golden Oils in 2010 focused on empowering rural women and is now leading Africa’s Consortium for Clean Food Processing. Infrastructure.

Phia Jones’ Story, CLEO Gen Z Project Developer

Phia Jones is between her GCSEs and A’levels in the UK having achieved scholarships for both Art and Drama. Phia is passionate about sustainability, not the least fresh plant based cosmetics for make-up artistry. Phia made her first communications materials for a sustainable future when she was four years old, spontaneously creating a Climate Change Adaptation brochure for the 2008 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. She designed the ETF Hubs Logo ‘Tree of Life’ when she was six and has helped lead fundraising activities for ETF Hubs child nutrition projects, now Delicias de Alicia.


William Kwende (French and English) Message:

Phia Jones (English) Message:


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