Sourcing Shea Butter: A Buyer’s Perspective (Burkina Faso Project)

Maiga Shea Butter is a Canadian company with African roots. Operated by Saidou Maigo, the company have been in business for over 8 years providing organic skincare products with shea butter as the base ingredient. Saidou participated in TFO Canada’s Buyer’s Mission to Burkina Faso in February of 2014, which resulted in the enhancement of his shea butter supply chain.

1. How did you hear about the TFO Canada project in Burkina Faso? How was your experience working with TFO Canada?
I have been aware of TFO Canada and its services for over four years through one of the organization’s associates Bertrand Walle, the head of the mission to Burkina Faso. When this mission was promoted our company quickly accepted to participate as we were looking for new sources of organic and Fairtrade shea butter.

TFO Canada brought a level of professionalism to sourcing supplies through its services. Going on a buyer’s mission that is well-organized makes it better and easier for importers and manufacturers rather than taking on these activities on their own. The presentations and information provided were valuable especially that of locating women who produce Shea butter. Having a structured and direct communication with a contact person on behalf of the women was ideal especially where it relates to paperwork.

2. Was Burkina Faso your first choice for finding Shea butter supply?
Maiga Shea Butter sources most of its Shea butter from Burkina Faso, after the mission we made a decision that 100% will be from Burkina Faso.

3. What would be your advice to exporters from developing countries on building a buyer-supplier relationship?
I would advise suppliers to do the following:

  • Be prepared for meetings with a buyer
  • Know your production capacity
  • Be aware of your organization’s capacity to fill orders and deliver within the time negotiated
  • Understand and be informed on all aspects of what is being negotiated
  • Build trust by being up front and open with information from beginning
  • Enhance communication and customer relationship by keeping the lines of communication open.
  • Do not make the deal and relationship a one-time arrangement
  • It would be desirable is an official email is sent to all buyers after any trade missions or meeting to continue the conversation or negotiation.

4. Would you make another purchase from GIE-Karitée du Burkina Faso?
Yes, our company hopes to increase the percentage of its supply from the organization in the future. This mission was a success for us and the buyers’ mission service provided by TFO Canada is a great initiative and value to both suppliers in developing countries and buyers in Canada.

From 2012-2014, TFO Canada, in partnership with CESO and Maison de l’Entreprise du Burkina Faso (MEBF), implemented a two-year project funded by DFATD with G.I.E.-Karitée du Burkina Faso, a consortium of six shea butter producers. The project included seminars, one-on-one interview, and a trade mission to Canada.