Following a study by an independent body, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has decided to recognize L'OCCITANE en Provence as an exemplary company, within the framework of its 2013 “Growing Inclusive Markets” initiative.
In the early 1980s, Olivier Baussan, founder of L'OCCITANE en Provence, met with women from Burkina Faso. They introduced him to shea butter – the multi-talented ingredient that is now emblematic of the brand. And so it was that L'OCCITANE began working with a few local women to develop a shea butter partnership, in the spirit of sustainable co-development.
In 2012, the economic impact was significant:
• L'OCCITANE purchased a record amount of 550 tons of shea butter,
• L'OCCITANE is the biggest importer of traditional shea butter from Burkina Faso.
This exchange is more than just a commercial relationship. L'OCCITANE ensures that the women of Burkina Faso reap the full benefits of their work by purchasing the butter from them once it has been processed insitu. They are paid a fair price, which covers production, environmental and social costs, and leaves a margin for investment – in accordance with the
criteria of the Ecocert EFT fair trade label.* L'OCCITANE provides an 80% down payment on production and helps the women to improve production, export their produce and find new outlets.
In parallel, during the dry period, the L'OCCITANE Foundation steps in to help these women by supportingtheir economic emancipation and developing literacy centres and microcredit programmes.
“L'Occitane's work in Burkina Faso has been selected as one of 12 innovative inclusive business modelsin Africa by UNDP, and sets an example of a leading global corporation that can do business while creating value for women farmers in one of the poorest countries in the world.”
— Sahba Sobhani, Programme Manager, Growing Inclusive Markets initiative, UNDP
“Today, this recognition of our action by the U.N. is proof of the value of the partnership set up
with the women of Burkina Faso 30 years ago. The shea tree is what binds us to these women,
but it has also paved the way for their economic emancipation.”
— Olivier Baussan, Founder of L'OCCITANE en Provence