10 Shea Roasters in the Field

Jeremy Su

When I first took over our Shea project when I started here at Burn Design Lab, my goal was to design this roaster to be manufactured here in West Africa and find local partners to make it happen. Over the last three (very long) months, we have worked with local manufacturers to transfer this technology to Ghana and finalize a pilot design, finished the first 10 locally-manufactured BDL Improved Shea Nut Roasters, and partnered with not one, but two different Shea butter distributors/brands in Northern Ghana to implement this technology at their hand crafted processing centers. These past few months have been challenging and frustrating, to say the least. Every two steps forward, it was at least one step back. But overall this trip was insightful and progress was made. 

This past week, Abdul and I installed the first three roasters and trained close to 200 women on the operation, safety, and maintenance. Yesterday, I tightened the final bolt on the last roaster, A009, packed my tool bag, and said goodbye to Latif and Saad, the two main engineering students who I have been working with for the past month and a half. (They agreed to put in 12 hours with me on a Saturday to finish things up!) 

Tomorrow, as I arrive back stateside, Abdul and our field staff will install an additional four roasters and train an additional 200 women. In September, we will do the final three installations up North in Wa to broaden our reach. With this major step in the project we are well on our way, but much more work is yet to be done to make this widely available to all of the women in the hand-crafted Shea butter production across West Africa. Some might say our work is just beginning.


Thanks to our local partners for making this happen: The Savannah Fruits Company, Baraka Shea Butter, and the Global Shea Alliance.

Special thanks to Bob Powell and Meadow Creature LLC, your generous support and wealth of knowledge throughout the product development leading up to this have been integral to the success of this project. While I had some logos made here in Ghana, I felt like it was symbolic to install the logos from Bob’s jet, on the island, on these first 10 roasters. 

And last but not least, thanks to all of the Burn Design Lab team, volunteers, advisors, board members, and especially our donors.