‘Everything was gone': Black-owned shea butter business suffers after $70k in product stolen

Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 12:30 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2020 at 12:31 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Charity Dinko started her shea butter business four years ago as a way to liberate women from poverty in her home country, Ghana.

Now, she has nothing and needs help finding out who’s responsible.

For the past three weeks, Dinko has been trying to pick up the pieces of the dream she had since leaving Ghana a decade ago.

“I started the company Northshea. We produce incredible Shea butter that we also use in making our body butter, and we sell wholesale and retail to other businesses that make soap as well,” Dinko said.

That dream gave opportunities to the village she left behind.

“The people there are extremely hardworking, especially the women, and there is extreme poverty to the point where most of them don’t even have food to feed their kids daily,” Dinko said.

Dinko’s business quite literally is the life line for countless people in her village.

“Usually if they go out to sell these thing themselves, they sell them for about 25 cents a pound,” Dinko said, “so we are able to market this over here, pay them living wages, so they can have a much more comfortable life.”

Dinko said there is “no reason” why women making shea butter -- which is used in soaps, lotions and chocolate -- are living in extreme poverty.

But on July 2, all of that was put on hold.

Dinko got a call from the storage managers. The unit where she kept the raw product was unlocked.

“I came back in the evening around 5:45, open this space up, just to realize they were right. Everything was gone,” Dinko said. “Almost 70 thousand dollars worth of items and sweat and all the work we put in over the past couple of years was wiped away.”

According to Henrico police, two suspects are responsible for stealing nearly 2,000 pounds of shea butter from the storage unit on the 800 block of Staples Mill Road. They are asking for the public’s help finding them.

“I think I’m really still shocked about how they knew there was so much product in here, who did it specifically and also why they did that to a company that is trying to liberate women from poverty,” Dinko said.

A crowd fundraiser has been started to keep Dinko’s dream of helping those in need, but she says what she wants most is closure.

“To produce 2,000 pounds of shea butter took about 30 days for us... and to go back and tell them that all of their hard work is gone is completely unbelievable,” Dinko said. “They don’t even understand who did it and why.”

If you have any information about this incident, call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

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