Winter 2022 Featured Maker: Naa-Sakle Akuete of Mother's Shea
Naa-Sakle Akuete is the CEO and founder of Mother’s Shea, which sources its products from Ghana.
What’s something about shea butter that Black women may not know, even though it’s our go-to moisturizer?
Rich in vitamins A, E, F and K, shea butter is multipurpose. Customers also turn to it as a hairstyling aid or deep conditioner, makeup primer and remover, or beard pomade, among other uses.
How have mothers and mothering shaped what you do?
My Grandma Sunshine used shea butter in her midwifery practice in colonial-era Ghana. When my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and meningitis, I decided life was too short to not spend our days together. We’re using her experience as past president of the Global Shea Alliance. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got to put our shea to the test as my belly grew.
What has being Ghanaian American taught you that Harvard Business School didn’t?
HBS taught me the theories behind business, but my background instilled the purpose of entrepreneurship. This family-run social enterprise was built to connect my life with my mother’s in a more intimate way, as well as to give back.
What does that mean for those in Ghana who harvest the nuts used?
Mother’s values our team of over 10,000 female pickers. We pay above-market wages and offer organic and financial training. We earmark 15 percent of profits toward tuition for their children.
How are your butters different from the rest?
We focus on unrefined shea butter rather than refined, which strips shea of its natural color, scent and, often, vitamins.
Where are they sold?
Target, Walmart, Amazon, Belk, CVS and Kroger.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mother's Shea (2)
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