Serious Shea and Cleo Organics True Value Chain

Shea butter or its component fats from the almond of the Shea tree, indigenous to The Sahel, are found in food and confectionery worldwide and in at least 1950 cosmetic products. The African production company Serious Shea is robustly verifying and supplying the first deforestation free, zero carbon, Grade A quality raw Shea butter for global export from The Sahel.

In Burkina Faso as the first roll-out country example, the National Union of Shea Producers already has a solid network with five thousand Women’s Shea Groups which have been legalised as cooperatives as part of the Project. The Shea Cooperatives are shareholders in Serious Shea for the construction and use of clean energy processing centres which will be at the heart of Sahel ecovillage clusters. The centres will produce export Grade A Shea butter including for the 72% Shea fruits currently sold as kernels

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 ESG data is collected by Clarity’s True Value Futures and time-stamped by Chain Zy blockchain based technology. Robust data and knowledge will inform progress at each value chain stage and attract further investment including with innovations such as ESG Policy Performance Bonds (sustainabilty-linked).

Impact and Opportunities

Clean energy and processing mechanisation, regenerating the Shea natural parkland and providing organic fertilizer for the soils will reverse desertification, sequester carbon, and adapt to climate change impacts across Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Evolving processing centres into full ecovillages will optimise the recycling of waste with ongoing data and expert feedback mechanisms, and to include partners for construction materials, water saving and purification, agroforestry and other innovations and opportunities.


‘Beyond fairtrade’ income will finance the transition from firewood to clean affordable energy for processing, food preservation, clean water systems, health care and other community benefits. Health problems from smoke inhalation will be mitigated. Informed by partner TARA, we expect a decrease in births by providing women year round employment through green technologies.


Women empowerment for individual, family, and community decisions is a critical impact of the project and the principle driver.


Data and knowledge interchange integrates local cultural knowledge such as tree cultivation techniques, planting new trees and cuttings in tree stumps to utilise existing water retention and root systems.


Serious Shea and Cleo represent African voice and action so that rural communities throughout The Sahel and their value chains and supply chains worldwide benefit from a new age of prosperity from a deforestation free, zero carbon, inclusive economy.


Clustered community financing needs for low-cost, zero carbon power and equipment, robust data collection, and social infrastructure are at a scale to achieve mainstream financial flows and investment by 2030. The excellence of data scope, depth and integrity has far reaching marketing benefits for Serious Shea value chains, as well as for vastly improved financial risk assessment.

True Value Pricing

Serious Shea together with Cleo have made the commitment to assessing True Costs towards True Value pricing by combining resource accounting (ESG) with financial accounting for Cleo retail prices (sometimes called internalising externalities). The base retail price of 100g of organic, deforestation free, carbon zero raw Shea butter includes €1 for Shea Women’s Group shares (ten times current income) and €3 is reinvested in clean energy processing centres and planting trees (compared to €0.06 carbon substitution at €60 CO2e tonne-1). The potential to rapidly expand Cleo retail sales is therefore an exciting component to bring financial flows to regenerate the communities and landscape of The Sahel.

For more information listen to the FS Club Webinar Achieving Sustainability in Developing Markets.

SNJ/WK/VC May 2021

On June 14th 2021 it was indicated that the Serious Shea and Cleo Organics True Value Chain project has won Trillion Trees: Sahel and Great Green Wall Challenge along with 10 other projects.


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

Serious Shea Solution Serious Shea solution to restore 100,000 km2 of The Great Green Wall by 2030

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