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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

Stephanie Torres says …

Planting my first garden in my new digs, and I like the idea of the group effort to encourage fair trade and helping those who love the earth and use it wisely. Also love anything natural with shea butter, the scent is delightful and the texture is smooth and silky. And the Chocolate by "Divine Chocolate", happy to know someone out there is making something just for us chocolate lovers. I'm looking forward to discovering more treats for myself and my family.

Betty Donovan says …

It is so importand to purchase whole trade products and to remember "we are the world"

d c says …

give back! it's only FAIR!

Karen says …

Thank you for believing in women! We are providers of knowledge, kindness, and nourishment in the most creative ways. I think Whole trade products show how worthy and beautiful a traditional life is.

Sarah says …

I use this lotion everyday- it's awesome!

Barbara W says …

I just love to help - and knowing that I'm purchasing a great product AND helping someone else have a productive lifestyle - that's just a bonus!

Carrie says …

I love knowing I am making a purchase that will positively affect the lives of others!

Kathy Watson says …

The idea of one small purchase at a time to help the workers in developing countries is appealing to so many people. By buying the fair trade products, we can feel good about the quality and also know that those workers are treated respectfully, with better working conditions and fair wages.

Jeanette B says …

I love not having to feel guilty about my personal care purchases. It's best for everyone involved.

Lisa says …

I like purchasing Whole Trade products. I'm purchasing products that I would normally buy, but my purchase benefits others. It's a great feeling to know that I can help someone by making the right choice at the store.

Aimee says …

What a great product. I'll be sure to check it out next time I'm in the store.

Julie Ware says …

I haven't tried the products yet, but what a great way to help others in need while enjoying natural products as these! I look forward to trying them soon

c berkowitz says …

I prefer Whole Trade Products because I feel I am getting the best. That's it!

Kate says …

It's often underestimated, the power the individual consumer possesses. By purchasing products such as these, not only am I making a difference the these womens' lives, but I'm getting a quality product.

Adrienne says …

Sustainability can happen with the help of such forward thinking individuals. As Ghandi said "be the change you want to see in the world"

Michelle O. says …

I just finished watching a video on YouTube about the process of making shea butter. It is so important to fund programs where women can be a part of their economic futures. Research has shown that women are superior managers of money and can reestablish stability to their communities. Thanks for being a huge part in expanding our knowledge of other ways of life and supporting such a worthy cause. Well worth the $$$.

Amanda Baur says …

Personally, I would rather someone tell me how I can do for myself rather than just handing me a gift. It is empowering to know that I can help myself if I need to! This is what we are doing my buying whole trade products.

anita says …

this looks great - thanks!

Cindy Cordova says …

Better care for the people of Whole Trade. Better care means a better product and equal worker's rights.

Shayla says …

Whole Trade benefits our brothers and sisters worldwide that are often forgotten. I appreciate being able to put my dollars towards quality products that will help make a difference in someones life.

Jeannie Whalen says …

Whole Trade products are a way to ensure that people are benefiting from their hard work. Great quality, economical, good for the environment and great to use. Love, love, love the shea butter line!!

Jillian says …

I like knowing that something I purchase can truly help someone--not just giving more money to a greedy corporation.

Melanie says …

With Whole Trade products I know what I've purchased was fairly traded and made with care and quality products. Only the best goes into Whole Trade products -- something I can always count on.

Adina says …

This is great! The more fair trade products Whole Foods carries, the better!

Robin Mittleman says …

I support the companies and people that are more fortunate in life that are able to give the chance for a healthier, better life to hard-working, less fortunate people who are not just looking for a handout. Rather, they are seeking the opportunity to bring a better life to their families and villages by various industrious means. For this, I salute you Whole Foods! I have been shopping at "Whole Foods" in the greater Los Angeles area since it began here as "Mrs. Goochs" Natural Food Store before being taken over by Whole Foods; this would be since the late 1970s. I spend thousands of dollars a year at your stores and I commend you for bettering the lives of those struggling in the United States and world-wide.

Emily Watson says …

I absolutely LOVE whole trade products!!! I feel like I'm helping the world in my own little way by supporting them!

Candyce Myers says …

I think it is wonderful to have these women able to work, to provide for themselves and their families. To empower them and to give them an ability to be sustainable. Wonderful too that we can help by buying their products. I wish there were more companies like "Everyday Shea" that did this to help in countries like West Africa and all over the world. There are so many out there in third world countries that need help to make it to survive. We in a america and in other better off countries like us take for granted how blessed we really are. Even in these hard times we don't even have it close to half as bad as people have it in third world countries all over the world...So thank you to Companies like Everyday Shea and to fair trade in general that help others. I for one am very thankful for all I have and love to help others in needed as I am able to do so. We all should. I believe One person can make a difference...It starts with one

Alissa says …

I love that when I purchase these products, I am actually doing some good with my money!

LAURIE says …

To put it simply - it feels good to feel good. Every small, random act of kindness, every effort to help those less well off or in need - these are the things that help our children to see how things SHOULD be. Our children, today's children, are the leaders of tomorrow. If purchasing Whole Trade products helps to enlighten our children - just imagine what the world could be like in the years to come.

Stewart Watson says …

I love the idea of supporting a concept that helps so many people.

Odile Kane says …

My mother got me an Everyday Shea product about a year ago and told me their story- which is truly incredible! It's so nice to see some good coming to the world in a dark time like this :) and if you can be, as is now rather trendy, both enriching your life and that of others silumtaneously, what have you to lose? and if all that weren't enough... the products are fragrant, smooth, and natural. sweet!

Alejandro Rosas says …

I wasn't aware of these Whole Trade products. I will try them next time I come to the store. I like that this is a way to empower local communities throughout the world.

Ronnie Williams says …

There are only 100% natural scented oils used. Most other products add something for scent that is not natural. Giving back to the people of these these products is one of the reasons I will always purchase Everyday-Shea. Thank you very much for leaning a helping hand to those that are in dire need of it. Together, we can make a difference. J. "Ronnie" Williams

Susana B. says …

Every product should be held to these standards. I can trust hold foods to give me the best product and also ensures that in every step of the way the product is made with integrity, honesty and of course organic!!

Patty Wheeler says …

I want to help others succeed.

Valerie Gardner says …

I like the fact that not only is it good for my skin but it's good for my heart because I know that the money is going to such a great cause!

Nyissia S. says …

I love to know that simply by purchasing a certain product, I am positively contributing to the life of another. Purchasing Whole Trade products allows me to take part in a cycle that distributes wealth and, hopefully will aid in the end of poverty and the exploitation of the poor. Thank you for creating such an opportunity for us to enrich each other's lives.

Polly Severy says …

Sustainability, softness, and success! What more could you want?!

Joanna says …

I love knowing that I'm helping to support women - who, let's face it, support their families more consistently than men - when I buy this great product. Everybody wins! Thanks.

Bridgette B. says …

Love products that support workers fairly, and that are just GOOD products that are hard to find otherwise.....

Clayton Klein says …

Recyle and live !

Shirley O says …

In a world of commercialization, it is wonderful to see products made in the traditional way and empowering women in the process. Kudos to Whole Foods for bringing this to our attention!

Carrie B says …

It is gratifying to know that purchasing a product has a direct benefit for the person/community that created it. The world over the oldest traditions are getting lost to the newer faster conveniences of modern society. I am happy to support the preservation of those traditions, and in this case to support these women in their trade.

Emily Barklage says …

I think it just makes you feel good about yourself and the contributions you're making to the earth!

Abbey says …

Whole Food is helping the individual consumer be wiser, and in the process making a difference in the lives of others.

Jackie says …

Knowing that Whole Trade products are environmentally friendly and helps workers provide for their families is one of the many reasons why I buy these products.

D. Champagne says …

I really enjoy the Whole Trade products.

JeanneH says …

Such stories like this make me travel 15-18 miles to the closest Whole Foods and buy products there. I do it because I know that Whole Foods is a responsible company that supports local businesses and small traders all around the world. I confess that I've never bought at Whole Foods anything but food, but this article definitely makes me appreciate that buying any kind of merchandise in Whole Foods originating from the underdeveloped countries, helps individuals who may not otherwise have any source of income whatsoever.

Margaret G says …

I enjoy the great products and quality -pure products that i can feel safe to use

S kim says …

it is a feeling you can help someone while enjoying the great products!!

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