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Everyday Shea Helps West Africans Every Day

Alaffia1Olowo-n'djo Tchala is the Founder and Director of Alaffia. In appreciation for our customers supporting their mission, he asked if they could please give away a lovely gift basket along with this blog post. Of course! So, given that February is Whole Trade Month here at Whole Foods Market and Alaffia is one of our wonderful Whole Trade vendors, enter a comment below by February 22, 2010, telling us what you like best about purchasing Whole Trade products. (Need a reminder about the benefits? Check out this Whole Trade Month post.) We'll select one comment at random to win the Alaffia gift basket. Alaffia: Empowering Women and Preserving Cultural Knowledge in West Africa through the Fair Trade of Handcrafted Shea Butter. AssibiRahamatouDjalilou In 2003, my wife and I founded Alaffia with the sole objective of using traditional knowledge to empower individuals and communities in West Africa. We formulate skin care products with shea butter handcrafted by our women's cooperative in Togo. Sales from these products provide direct economic opportunities for the most disadvantaged women in central Togo and also fund community empowerment projects in our local communities. In late 2008, due to the global economic slowdown, we created EveryDay Shea in order to continue employing the 300 Alaffia Cooperative members in Togo. The Alaffia Cooperative is the first stable employment these women have ever had, and for the past five years they and their families have relied on the income they receive from the cooperative. While the economic slowdown is painful to many families in the West, SalifatouGaniou it is even more difficult for individuals and families in poorer countries who already live on the edge. EveryDay Shea is our value line of fair trade certified 32 oz shea butter body and hair care products that retail under $14. Our nationwide introduction of EveryDay Shea in January 2009 was made successful by the support of Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market is our largest customer and their willingness to retail EveryDay Shea had an immediate impact on our shea butter cooperative. The demand for shea butter that it created enabled us to maintain membership, and we even added members for the first time in five years. In May 2009, we added four experienced shea butter crafters, and in July, we recruited an additional five young members. YinaZiberaTchagouni To me personally, the addition of the five young women to the cooperative is the most meaningful achievement of EveryDay Shea. Adding young people to the cooperative means that they will learn traditional knowledge and crafts, which are vanishing throughout the West African savanna. Most young people in our communities no longer value traditions and cultural knowledge due to the impact of economic and cultural globalization. I strongly believe that maintaining traditional crafting is not only sustainable, but is the greatest opportunity that African communities have in getting out of poverty. For instance, like the majority of African women born prior to 1960, my mother cannot read or write in any western languages. AdjaratouKadiriTherefore, my mother and her peers are excluded from the economic system. However, if we consider their traditional crafting knowledge as economically valuable, then their skills are useful to the system. Valuing the skills of these women allows them to provide for their families, which provides a sense of self independence as they are no longer forced to rely on outside aid for survival. Furthermore, African states are not industrialized. In fact, they should not become industrialized in the model of the United States, Europe, and now Asia. The only sensible option for us is to focus on our traditional knowledge and indigenous resources embedded with moral trade practices. This paradigm can only be realized with a distribution platform for these traditional crafts and resources. In Alaffia's case, Whole Food Market provides an important opportunity by making our traditionally based products available to the public. coop-smeverydayshea My experience being born and raised in abject poverty in central Togo and my interactions with various societies around the world have convinced me that reducing poverty and bringing about gender equality in West Africa can only be achieved through trading African resources at fair value. The impact of EveryDay Shea, from the response of our customers in the United States to the effect on our cooperative in Togo, strengthens my conviction that it is possible for poor communities to become self sustaining without the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Alaffia-Gift-Basket

Don't forget to enter your comment for a chance to win an Alaffia gift basket.

By February 22, 2010, tell us what you like best about purchasing Whole Trade products. (Need a reminder? Check out this Whole Trade Month post.) We'll select one comment at random to win the Alaffia gift basket. Photo References: Alaffia Founder Olowo-n'djo Tchala with new Alaffia Cooperative Members, August 2009. Alaffia Cooperative Member Assibi Rahamatou, May 2009 Alaffia Cooperative Member Salifatou Ganiou, May 2009 Alaffia Cooperative Member, Yina Zibera Tchagouni, May 2009 Alaffia Cooperative Member Adjaratou Kadiri, May 2009 And the winner is... (announced 02/23/10):
Jackie L: I like that the products provide the opportunity for less advantaged people groups to have a job and skill that enables them to provide for their family in some way. I’m glad that Whole Foods doesn’t just go with the huge corporations, but touches the world with support.

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1612 comments

Comments

Dianne Maxcy says …

I've found out with my skin so sensitive there aren't very many products that I can use. After speaking with the professional you have in this area she shared with me great information on the Shea products( Everyday Shea). She had time to spend with me going over the difference between the shea products vs. other products that may not agree with my skin type. We tried on of the moisture products on my arm while finished up my shopping in Whole Foods. It showed in about a 30 min. period there was no redness on the skin. Upon my purchase she was kind enough to tell me If I had any reaction after using the product for awhile to bring the product back. I LOVE THE MOISTURE CREAM and two weeks ago I started with the hair products. I was very pleased with the products and shared the information with my Dermatologist who was pleased with my results in finding a product that agreed with my sensitive skin. Prescription creams were very costly and the Everyday Shea products are priced so people can afford great products without the high cost. I've been using the products for about 2 months and so far I've been very satisfied. Thank you and your staff for allowing me the chance to share my experience about the Everyday Shea products. Dianne Maxcy, Clemmons, North Carolina

Nan says …

I love shea butter products, and I am more than happy to support Whole Trade efforts to support women who are trying to support themselves. Thank you for this opportunity.

Kelli says …

I love the idea of "everyone can make a different". If everyone commits ourselves to purchase whole trade products, a much better world can be created. While you are consuming the good, at the same time you are doing good deed. So why not do that!

salome says …

I love love shea products! Thank you for helping africa!

Barbara says …

This is wonderful stuff!

Maryam says …

I think it is so important to give back to the community. It is our responsibility to help others and protect the environment. The Whole Trade program allows this to happen to the producers in developing countries. The best part is that you receive high quality standards, it promotes better wages and working conditions for workers and cares for the environment!

Sue says …

This is the way it should be!

Shelli says …

The thing I like best about purchasing Whole Trade products is they are really great quality products and you also know your purchase of the product is helping someone in need. A win, win purchase.

Heather says …

Frankly, I just love the interconnectedness I feel to so many people through the products.

Tricia says …

I love that these products are helping to provide for impoverished women and their families. Love you, Whole Foods!

Kellee Konieczny says …

This product seems amazing.

sschultz says …

It's the right thing.

Deanna Valdes says …

I love to buy fair trade products to make a difference in our world. I love africa and love the people of africa, so this product even more speaks to my heart.

Bridget says …

What an amazing story and an amazing feat. Thank you for having the heart to take this on. I will be looking for this at Whole Foods. Bless you. Bridget in New Mexico

Kim Brady says …

The best part about these products is that not only do you get a wonderful product for yourself, but everytime you use it you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone in need, and you remind yourself to keep striving to do more every day to increase your helpful impact all around the everyday world of your life.

mary Wisniewski says …

I am constantly amazed at how little I know about the struggles and work of those out of our arms length. I am thrilled to know that the purchase of these goods would be of help to all of these couragous people. Thank You

Margery L says …

Quality Products made by quality people who really care about what they do for a licing. Glad to know it is going back to the people who make and present the actual products! Thnaks for sharing an inspiring article.... Yeah Whole Foods!

Nancy says …

As an elementary teacher in my community, I especially appreciate your "Everyday Shea" product and want to thank you for your mission to support the economic & emotional well-being of the West African women & their families. I teach 6th grade in a Title One elementary school & know first-hand the difference it makes to provide support & encouragement for my students. Your mission & your product are to be applauded; I can personally thank you for keeping my hands soft & supple...handling paper all day and frequent hand washing make "Everyday Shea" an everyday must!

Jerri North says …

I have been practicing good nutrition ever since my children were little, for over 30 years. I used to love shopping at your store when you were still Natures on Jean road in Lake Oswego, and I enjoy your new store even more. I appreciate the fact that a lot of your products are locally produced as well as organic, and I love to see you supporting fair trade practices. I know that my dollars are going toward helping people and not just supporting greedy corporations. I really enjoy your cooking classes as well. Keep up the good work.

Naomi Johnston says …

I always know that the quality standards are far superior to anywhere else, and I'm always proud to recommend Whole Trade products to friends

donna treece says …

went into your store for the first time when i was visiting a friend in santa cruz. i wish there was one here in redding, ca.

Shawna Wilkinson says …

Helping support others while buying a good product!

Kim says …

Buying Whole Trade products makes me feel even better about my purchases, knowing that they're helping to improve the lives of other people through fair business practices.

Tierra says …

I like buying whole trade because I know my money is being given to those who need it in a fair way.

Catherine says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products allows me to both think globally and act locally - and how nice to know that my dollars are truly making a difference in lives around the world!

Susan K says …

What a deal! Get a wonderful product AND help people on the other side of the world. I look forward to trying these products, and if I can do so for free, even better. God bless these women and their families.

Joan Westlake says …

It is so easy to feel beaten up by right-wing rhetoric and its heartless agenda. Voting with my dollar give me some sense of comfort. Learning of the wonderful people who so deservedly benefit from my whole trade purchases is a bright light in an too often dim scene. It is a reminder that there is a world of good people.

Tammy says …

It is the thought of using my purchasing power ( hard earned money ) and making the world a better place. I do not care for the mass produced / manufactured products. Give me the local farmer or gardener or talent any day of the week.

Peggy Heilig says …

Knowing that purchasing the food is helping very hardworking, wonderful people, and that the food is GOOD< HEALTHY FOOD!

Maria Szobi says …

Afrikan traditional crafting knowledge is so valuable and I am so glad that this way it will be passed on new generation. Keep up the great work you are doing. Thank you.

Joanna Ruth says …

I love that my money goes to support and empower workers rather than supporting a system which subverts and takes advantage of workers.

samura says …

Hi, I am happy to be part of this whole trade by buying the products. Thanks Samura

Leigh A. Peterson says …

It is always nice to be able to use responsible beauty products.

Barb S. says …

I like the fact that it's giving the people fair wages and better working environments!!!!

Elizabeth says …

So many of the products that we use in the West are contaminated with harmful chemicals. "Everyday Shea" is all natural. By purchasing this healthy product we are contributing to the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of its artisians Best of luck!

Christine says …

That's great. Food is a fantastic way of knowing another culture.

Angela Butler says …

Whole Trade products are truly amazing in that no matter how inconsequential the purchase someone may think they are making for themselves, in reality it's made a world of difference to all those people involved that made it possible for that product to be on that shelf.

Valorie B says …

I love purchasing Whole Trade products for several reasons: 1. I feel it is helping to educate the workers about better (ie, healthier and more ethical) growing conditions, which is one way to improve things here on Planet Earth! 2. it is supporting workers, who often could be underpaid and overlooked, thereby valuing and rewarding a fellow human being. 3. I think these products are exceptional in quality. 4. I feel linked to the person who helped create, and produce the product. And, I also feel linked to that country. I think it is a lovely way to bring this world a little closer together, while helping the environment at the same time.

Michael says …

I love reading the stories of how the products come from field to market; we in the U.S. really have no idea how we get so many of our staple items, and it's refreshing to see how people around the world have economically viable, sustainable industries that we should feel honored to support.

Linda V says …

Whole Trade products sold at Whole Foods is a perfect example of people helping people. I thank Whole Foods for offering these products and whole heartedly support the Whole Trade concept.

Sandra says …

I really like that whole foods are helping others, besides I love the products! Great Job! Sandra

Amy says …

I just love knowing that what I am purchasing went through a socially responsible process, and that the money I spend is actually helping others make a honest living, and supporting Whole Foods in what you do!

Elaine says …

We've honestly tried everything on the market for my daughter's eczema which still flares up often. The Everyday Shea line seemed to have really helped it ever since we've tried it ! It's even better to know the purchases help deserving hard-working women too !

lisa schwartz says …

Whole Trade gives new meaning to Whole Foods!

Glenda Burgeson says …

I know I'm getting good quality products and the best part is helping to reduce poverty with every purchase.

Casi G. says …

It's such a wonderful feeling knowing that purchasing Whole Trade products helps to empower these women and gives them stable employment, so they are able to provide for their families.

Ilene Liss says …

What's not to love about all their products! Finally products that benefit more than just the CEO's of a company...

jane says …

It is vital to directly support individuals as much as you can, with every purchase, every day.

Scotti says …

Just another wonderful example of our spending dollars having real impact on people around the world. Thanks for sharing the story.

karen price says …

Thank you for providing the information regarding these products. I search high and low for these kinds of things and try to only buy products that meet these standards. Looking forward to shopping more!

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