I picked up a copy of the Princeton newspaper called US1, and found a story about a woman who is making a huge impact in her native Ghana by opening a new factory to produce a product for the US. Emelia Etse, known as Nana, grew up in Africa and came to the US in 1989 when her husband took a job at a Princeton company. She had dry skin and wanted a remedy, and the answer was shea butter from Ghana. But the salve is made from nuts and doesn’t have the right texture or smell to work well as a skin cream.
Nana got her husband, a chemist, to help her formulate a cream with 50% shea that had the right texture and smell, and she began selling JoeNana cream at craft shows in town. It caught on, and soon, she went back to Ghana to meet with the villagers who took the shea butter seeds and cooked them into a cream. Now she employs eight women to prepare the raw shea butter and sends it to her house in Belle Mead–but she wants more. So she built a factory in Ghana where soon 200 people will earn above the local wage and work for her company. It’s a rare success story in a hard bitten place and she hopes that stores like Whole Foods will begin to return her calls and stock her JoeNana products, that now include black soap, and is available on her website.