Homemade Shea Founder, Christie Agawu (Ph.D.)
As a social entrepreneur, Dr. Christiana (Christie) Agawu began working with artisanal women partners in Northern Ghana as a matter of social justice. Christie teaches at Princeton University in the Program in African Studies at the Princeton Institute for International and Religious Studies (PIIRS). Although originally from Ghana, she first read about the Gnani witch camps while doing research for a course she taught on traditional African religion. As a Ghanaian native herself, she realized that any of those women could have been her, her daughter, or her sister. She wanted to see how she could help them achieve the living conditions they deserved, despite being exiled from their families.
When her brother, already in the shea butter business in Ohio, asked that she help him source shea butter directly from Ghana, her first thought was the women in Gnani. To Christie’s dismay, she learned that some people were reticent about using shea butter made by the accused women, thus hurting their income generation and the Gnani camp’s economic growth. After working with the women, she found a niche where she could make an impact by securing regular income for them, as well as helping to bring attention to the crisis. As a result, Homemade Shea was born.
Christie’s mission is to quietly fight for social justice through finding work for the Gnani women and helping to improve their community. She expects to include the newly empowered women as participants and leaders in this human rights effort.