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Black soap and Shea butter have been a stable cosmetics used in West Africa for centuries, but have only in the last couple years made it big in the United States.  These two products are now enjoying commercial success because people found out the benefits they offer healing acne, dry or damage skin.  Although used for their cosmetics benefits in the United States, in West Africa they are used to  combat rashes, ring worm, eczema, and wind damage.  The vast differences are in Africa people use these products to fix their ailments out of need, while in the United States people with so many choices and better living condition use the products out of need to make their lives more appealing.

Both products are manufactured by small entities, which bestow the benefits of production to those closest to the source.  My investigation has not revealed an over-riding large producer which monopolizes the source which means that there is price competition and obscene  profits are not being made.  Prices depends on packaging and quality of refinement from the original products.  Of the two, the black soap has retained its original form, while I have seen products where the essential extracts of the Shea Butter has been synthesized. My conclusion is that the Shea Butter is one  plant, while the Black Soap is made up of different products such as cocoa pods ash, plantain skin ashes and palm oil.  There are marketers in Africa as well as the United States, and entities selling  the unrefined products in bulk.

These products are an illustration of what can happen when the need exist in one country and it can be supplied from another country.  The proliferation of these products  happen because they are relatively easy to manufacture and the costs are low. Being around for centuries is proof of their worth and benefit in usage.  My wife uses them on a regular basis and others who are dedicated users. Looking at these two products have led me to think of what other products that might exist within other parts of Africa, the Caribbean or South America that can be used to benefit the producers and the consumers.  In my experience I have come across products that although they are beneficial to both consumers and producers, they are crowded out my the many products that already exist in the market place. That is why I find these two products so exciting, that they have reach international commercial success and no large entity controls the manufacturing or distribution.  Of the two products I see the future of Shea Butter being  taking over by large manufacturing that will manipulate the chemical structure and extract the most useful part of the nut.  Black soap with its many ingredients will be harder to manipulate.

The consumers (Ethnic Americans) and the producers (Africans)  of these products are a microcosm of what can be achieved on a larger scale if  they can get together and exchange more goods and services.  Just like a box, I think there can be profound changes that can be brought for with the exchange of commonalities in The United States,  Africa, The Caribbean and South America. We know of blacks in the other three countries standing up in economic terms, but we know little of those in South America.


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