The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has awarded a $1.1 million co-investment grant to 8 Degrees North, a Ghanaian palm oil processing company, to support smallholder farmers in West Africa to access the growing market for organic palm oil in the United States. The co-investment project will considerably boost profits for smallholders and increase the value of exports from the region while creating over 6,000 new jobs in Ghana and Liberia.
8 Degrees North will leverage the Trade Hub’s co-investment grant to back an alliance with multiple partners seeking to address the challenges of process upgrades and organic certification in West Africa’s palm oil industry. A critical investor and member of this alliance is Pacha Soap Co., a U.S.-based natural soaps company committed to ethical sourcing.
Pacha Soap will assist both 8 Degrees North and J-Palm, a Liberian palm kernel oil company in the alliance, to secure organic accreditation for their two mills, which will allow smallholders in both Ghana and Liberia to get better prices for their palm fruit. The company will also source ingredients for its products directly from 8 Degrees North and J-Palm, strengthening the supply chain for each company and further boosting smallholders’ incomes. Just as crucial to the alliance’s success, Pacha Soap will leverage its relationship with major retailers in the United States to advertise and market 8 Degrees North and J-Palm’s certified palm oil and palm kernel oil, capitalizing on the untapped potential for a diversified supply chain of palm oil sourced from organic smallholder plantations in West Africa. Discussions are already underway between Wholefoods and J-Palm, a strong indicator that the alliance is well-positioned for success.
“With this project, manufacturers in the United States can now source from certified smallholders in West Africa,” said Andy Thornton, Vice President, Sourcing and Impact at Pacha Soap. “We can use our supply chain, our brand as the jumping-off point to build the supply chains and allow smallholders to become international, get them certified, and get them access to markets.”
8 Degrees North and Pacha Soap are also partnering with a specialist blockchain technology company, Bext360, that will provide a platform delivering full transparency on where ingredients are sourced from and who is producing them.
Osman Bangura, Director of Operations for 8 Degrees North, looks forward to seeing the many positive outcomes of the alliance for both his company and J-Palm.
“This co-investment partnership with the Trade Hub will enable us to expand operations, create more jobs, improve standards of living for our farmers and their communities, and also to meet our corporate social responsibilities,” Bangura says.
Exports from this venture to the United States are expected to generate over $1.7 million, with new sales for smallholders valued at over $900,000. The creation of over 6,000 new jobs is also anticipated for smallholders in Ghana and Liberia because of increased market demand and production needs. The Trade Hub’s $1.1 million co-investment to support 8 Degrees North and Pacha Soap’s initiatives advance the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States.
“We are excited about this partnership, which will allow the growing organic palm market in the United States to engage with smallholders in West Africa,” said Michael Clements, Chief of Party of the Trade Hub. “By lifting the barriers preventing these farmers from being able to supply to the U.S. market, the project will boost profits and create jobs.
About West Africa Trade & Investment Hub: The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is a USAID-funded initiative to co-invest with the private sector to generate new private investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa.
About USAID: The United States Agency for International Development is the lead U.S.
Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About Prosper Africa: Prosper Africa is the U.S. Government’s initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
About 8 Degrees North: 8 Degrees North Limited is a Ghana-based crude palm oil and palm kernel oil processing company, which aims to produce 100 percent sustainable and certified organic palm oil, export overseas, and sell the organic palm oil in the United States.
About J-Palm: J-Palm is a Liberia-based palm kernel oil processing company that works to empower smallholder oil palm processors in rural communities by providing access to modern, more efficient processing technologies.
About Pacha Soap Co.: A luxury hand-made soap and bath product producer in Hastings, Nebraska, Pacha seeks to bring full transparency to its supply chains and the ability to trace all its ingredients directly to smallholders. Each purchase supports ethical sourcing, clean water initiatives, hygiene education, and small business opportunities worldwide.