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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

Ryan says …

Nice to see that such simple products that we use every day can help change the lives of others. Goes to show how being a responsible and informed consumer can make a difference.

Lisa says …

It only makes sense to purchase fair trade products. How could you not?

Margo Wagner says …

I love to see products made by impoverished women, giving them a chance to earn money to change their lives. Natural products are so much better for your body.

chris burd says …

I like the prospect to creating new economic opportunities for workers

Francesca Earhart says …

I love that by purchasing Whole Trade products you are supporting the environment and getting great products at the same time. I won't have to worry if these products are safe for my children.

Amy says …

This is such a great cause...I would encourage all my friends to purchase these products!

Caroline Mamoulides says …

Everyday Shea is a product I have been using for some time now and I feel good about both the product itself and the fact that its production has such a positive effect on others.

Lilli Liebeskind says …

Great cause. Will definitely purchase.

Libby Dodd says …

Among other things, like livelihood and dignity, Fair Trade items encourage people to support themselves through means that are healthy for their environment.

Audrey says …

I absolutely love EveryDay Shea and other Alaffia products, not only because they are great for my skin, but more importantly I know that I am impacting lives around the world with my purchase. I try to buy Whole Trade whenever I can!

michele thomas says …

I often buy Whole Trade products at my local Whole Foods in Louisville KY. Since I've been unemployed I am more picky how my money is being spent. I do not feel guilty that my money is going to a good cause now and I am telling all my friends and family about the Whole Trade products and they are a believer now as I am. Go Whole Trade and Whole Foods, you are both Awesome!!!!

Tanya Martin says …

I love their shea products. It is great that they are helping to empower African women. I will continue to support them.

Megan M. says …

Whole Trade purchasing needs to be a staple of all of our lives. It is such a simple way to do good, it is a no brainer. You win by getting an awesome product and the suppliers win because they become self sustaining, vital members of the world economy.

Melissa Miller says …

I love the fact that I am helping another family.

Amy Zambrano says …

whole foods is the best at what it does for the world!

Berry Grand says …

Sounds great. I will certainly buy some!!! It is refreshing (to say the least) to find products that are made like this and benefit the people envoled directly. I hope it benefits many both it buying and selling! Berry

Gwen says …

Making a difference is what our lives are to be about every moment. The work of Whole Foods makes it easier for me to make a difference in other areas of my life. I can live lighter on the Earth as a result of this collaboration.

Anna Campbell says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products creates a global feeling to my shopping list and my home. I am able to share products from around the world with my family and they are able to learn about people that we would never have otherwise learned about or helped! Every purchase helps. Let's spread the news!!

meg says …

I am so very thankful there are places like Whole Foods in America that take part in The Whole Trade Guarantee. What a priviledge it is as a customer to be able to purchase products that turn into new economic opportunities for workers in other countries.

Joyce S says …

What a wonderful idea and a neat basket, too.

Susan Tom says …

Good quality and the price.

Kari (Kaitie) Soto says …

My family likes to buy Whole Trade products so that we can help a community directly and enjoy truly wonderful products!

Janice Lonergan says …

It's great to have a company like Whole Foods who is committed to Global Whole Trade efforts. Whole Foods supports the local community and give all of us a chance to be a ripple in the global Whole Trade movement!

jen monuteaux says …

In this time of mega marts and retail giants in feels good to help support the honest working man.

Cate deCossy says …

We have two woven shopping baskets that I just love. I totally agree with the founder's statement of traditional crafts being the way to go, as well as sustaining culture and cultural identity. I highly commend his desire to prosper outside of the economic model in practice in most other countries. Africa has such an amazing amount of crafting and cultural, arts and music heritage-keeping it alive, and doing so in a manner that allows independance and freedom, is so important. I support fair trade in providing and keeping sources of income for those that would otherwise be without. I support traditional crafts and cultures. I support the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment it brings to those who actively participate.

Susan Tom says …

Good quality and good price.

Kelly says …

Being able to help someone else simply by purchasing great products is an awesome thing. I love it when people can be proud of their efforts and rewarded because they have the ability to produce something of use to others. I think when people are able to help themselves they become empowered and their lives are changed forever.

lya says …

love the idea that when I buy something it does more than just line a corporation's big pockets!

Robin Taylor says …

I feel empowered purchasing Whole Trade products, because I know that I'm directly helping the people of West Africa, not just some "corporate giant" out there. I can literally see the faces of the gracious employees who make the products that I purchase, and I am so glad that my purchases help these women provide economically for their families.

Sydney says …

I just absolutely love this. It's a shame that often the things we buy may actually create more problems in other places in the world. Thank you for publishing this... it has made me more aware of these sorts of things. And it is truly rewarding and satisfying when you know that it is good for the world!

Jillian Wiederer says …

I love what Whole Trade products/food do for the communities they are produced in and the people producing them. We often only see the end result and do not think about those that get that product/food to us. It's important to be reminded of where our products come from and how lucky we are to have them. Thank you for supporting Whole Trade!

Tracy says …

Regardless of political, environmental or economic persuasions, one of the appeals of buying Whole Trade items is that it comes from far off places (that's not China, though China is far) that makes it feel special like you're traveling to somewhere new and different within the aisles of a grocery store.

Mary Kay Powers says …

Whole Trade products create win-win-win scenarios for all involved--the product user, product makers and product sellers. Mindful use of good-for-you body products is kind of like giving yourself a hug as often as you use your favorite product.

Suzie Woods says …

What I like most about whole trade products is the assurance of better wages and working conditions for workers. We all deserve that. Thanks for caring...

Diane Astarita says …

Empowering Women and Preserving Cultural Knowledge

Linda says …

So glad you've chosen West Africa for employment,offering resources to them.Thanks for contributing!

Michelle Baik says …

It's great to know that I am buying something that credits and benefits people who do the right thing.

Gretchen M says …

I buy Fair Trade items every opportunity I get. I love knowing that such a small effort on my part makes such a big difference for those so far away. It also helps me to connect with other cultures with an added benefit of learning about new ingredients I've not heard of before.

pat says …

I like Whole Trade products like Alaffia because they are pure. They are healthy for me to use and also healthy for the women who produce them. Keep it up!

Monika Zemanova says …

love u buy great product and help good cause. I love the story...

Nina says …

It's just nice to know that there are other people out there willing to buy such products, maybe pay a little more to help others out, and just plain care about people, the environment, and the world. I don't get to see that everyday unfortunately.

Nadia says …

It is so awesome to see such beautiful women who like me supporting themselves and their families. I love it how Whole Foods teams up with women to empower their communities and ultimately the world.

Maria Clemencia Meyer says …

I love this website and I enjoy every time I learn something new!

Sheetal says …

Beautiful and touching article. What a wonderful way to give back by helping the less privilaged. Keep it up whole foods!

Karen J says …

Fair trade helps everyone. If I know my money is helping someone who works as hard and honestly as I do, I feel good about them and myself!

Tanya says …

It makes me feel good that I know the producers of the products I buy are receiving a fair wage for their work, and to add in a small way to the ability for communities to be self-sufficient without the intervention of international aid organizations.

Liz V says …

I love the having all my favorite products in one place at great prices!

Heather Douglas says …

Best thing about purchasing whole trade products is you help ensure better wages and working conditions for workers who otherwise may be take advantage of.

Natalie Jensen says …

I like purchasing the products because of their high quality and 10% of sales are donated to Africa.

stephanie says …

using everyday purchases to make a difference in the lives of people is fantastic, restoring dignity to women is a privilege

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