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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

Cheryl says …

I just shopped there for the first time this past Monday, and I must say I loved it! The store staff was so friendly, everyone said hi, very helpful, very very helpful. I purchased some wonderful Lobster Bisque that was soooooo good and I got some cheese and just a whole lot of stuff...I will be back!

Kathy says …

I love these products and I look for Whole trade products whenever I can!

Kandyce says …

Buying fairly traded products is important because i care about how the people are treated & the quality of product i buy.

Rachel says …

I like to purchase food from whole foods not only because it is healthier for my family, but because I am supporting local farmers. I hope that one day buying whole foods will be less expensive.

Cory Alley says …

Knowing that your purchase benefits more than just the person you are buying it for - its the gift that keeps on giving.

Liza P says …

Beautiful! Great to see how these women are being empowered!

Byronem says …

Fair trade products, whole trade products are important because of the living wages that the makers get. sustaining a family is important and western cultures should not take advantage of cheap labor.

Tess says …

I applaude EveryDayShea for all the wonderful things they keep in the forefront of their philosophy. Knowing a company helps women and gives customers a product that we can feel 100%joyful about is FABULOUS!!!! Thank you for making us aware of the whole story behind the company.

Laura F. says …

I have purchased fair trade tea and coffee but after reading the comments I will be looking for more diverse products to try in the future.

Kathy Hoganson says …

The Whole Trade movement is the way that business should have been done all along. We need to respect and be kind to others and the world would be a much better place...this is a great start.

April says …

I love the products! Thanks!

Michelle Trudeau says …

It is key to guard human rights and the environment in all our trading. I wish that was a national and international requirement for world trade.

Shannon says …

Awesome Whole Foods!!! You've done it again! This is another great example why I travel 40 minutes each week to shop at your store! THANK YOU!

Doreen Ryan says …

It feels good to be socially and environmentally responsible. Purchasing these products is a win/win situation.

Michal Cooling says …

Wow! This is such a great mission. I'm very grateful to have heard about it. Alaffia has my support!!! Thanks to everyone who's invested their time, money, and care!

briggid larson says …

Love buying products made from real people and not some high tech machine. The product s make feel good in and out The products are superb

Stacy, A says …

I like that buying Whole Trade is paying a fair wage for the product.

Maria says …

The UNIVERSE gives us so much in life on a daily basis . The least we can do is be responsible with our Mother Earth. We can all do our part, from recycling to buying free trade products .

kim bennett says …

I like that they are helping others in underdeveloped countries and they are natural and not mass produced.

Kimberly McCray says …

What I love best about purchasing Whole Trade Products are these 2 things:That Whole Trade ensures better wages and working conditions for workers and that Whole Trade cares about the environment. Those are two things that I really am concerned about.

mary p says …

knowing that I have the opportunity to choose WHERE my dollars can support small families/ villages is a great gift.. not only do I get a handcrafted product, I feel connected to growth in my world...

Ivonne Zambrana says …

I recently bought Alaffia Shea Butter Cleansing Milk. I found the price reasonable. I feel buying this product is my way of feeling part of a world far away from me. It makes me feel that my little contribution has an impact in someone's life. It makes me feel engaged in the process in which Whole Foods stands for. I love it!. The quality of the product is superb; feels like homemade. A product I can trust. Made with love. I get the satisfaction of being part of a bigger process in which when you take care of people and do business you do OUR world better and do better business. Thanks Whole Foods for everything you do! Ivonne Zambrana

Jane Scruggs says …

What I like best is knowing that I am helping people who need it, while at the same time, NOT giving my money to "fat cats" who don't need it!

LInda Dunn says …

What outstanding points are made ! They so clearly highlight the commitment that Whole Foods has made to run a ethical business model ! I like purchasing items that I know where they are from and how they are produced ! It is an extra bonus to know that what I am buying, has such an enormous positive impact on someone else.

Luly says …

I'm addicted to the Lavender Body Wash and now the Unscented Body Lotion and after reading this blog I'm crazy-super-happy to know that my little purchases go to help women and children make better lives for themselves. Amen!

Mariah says …

Shea butter is such a wonderful product to start with, and then to have it produced by a cooperative that is doing such good is wonderful. "...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. " Keeping tradition and making it sustainable and profitable for these people is truly a worthy endeavor.

jeanette ricci says …

I find Whole Trade products always of the best quality, and it makes me feel their is justice in paying a fair price that the local workers receive for their toil.

Michele says …

I like that we are helping out other people. AND these are good products.

L Kawahara says …

Purchasing whole trade products adds value to me by my knowing I am aiding people who are financially disadvantaged to live better and more dignified lives.

Ron Jeka says …

Shea butter would put all or most of the other sunscreens out of business also peelu dental fibers from India is better than our floride-laced toothpaste. Shea is great! 100% is the only one to use!

Kim Meyerson says …

What an interesting and inspiring story. The products sound wonderful.

Francie says …

I really like Whole Foods products because they offer really high quality goods at lower prices than other brands.

Marty J says …

I am glad that Whole Foods promotes conscious attention to the "fair trade and green earth friendly" products available.

James McVay says …

Wow! AFter watching Food Inc. we come to Whole Foods whenever we can! Eat better products that treat our world and its environment in the right way!

Debbie says …

Just purchased some of the lotion, love it. Didn't know the story behind it. Thank you for the wonderful product that also helps so many.

Laurette Timms says …

Whole Trade products are not tested on animals, and contribute to treating the worker fairly.

Megan Hartman-Carvajal says …

I shop at Whole Foods for so many reasons, and this is one of them. Providing an affordable, high-quality product that positively affects communities across the globe. Thank you, WFM, for making a positive impact in the lives of these women and their families!

Kara Weinstein says …

Beyond not feeling guilty, you can feel like you're making positive changes in the economic system when you purchase fair trade goods. Good job Whole Foods!

Shadia Lahlou says …

Purchasing the various products connects myself as a woman, to women around the globe striving to be treated fairly and appreciated. Not only is it ethically correct, but my morals as an empowered fellow woman are shining through purchasing fair trade. I care about that mother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend overseas just as I would about my own family.

Melanie says …

I like that for the most part the products meet Highest standards, but at a lesser price.

Cal Clift says …

I use Whole Trade products because of the high quality. I do not buy products to make a statement I but that my family may liv a healthy and happy life. Now if that helps people elsewhere do the same that is a plus!

Suzanne O says …

I like purchasing products that promote equality and a fair price for work.

Liz D says …

I like feeling like i am making a difference in someone's life.

Kelly Iversen says …

I love to hear about stories like this one that have a full-circle positive impact! Not only does the business create jobs and boost the economic situation of individuals as well as the community, the products are sustainable, pure and good for the customer. Plus, what an empowering experience for the women in this part of the world to have ownership of their livelihood!

barry torem says …

Whole Trade - Whole Foods - Whole World Holy, Holy, Holy

Mia Russo says …

When I purchase Whole Trade products, I like knowing the people involved in making the product have earned a fair wage.

Claudia says …

How beautyful life is when we know that theres is more than just us in this world and that we can help other people buy learning there culture.

Mandy MacCalla says …

It is heartening to see women's cooperatives succeed. Third world problems will not be solved until women gain greater status and economic independence.

Johannah says …

I like to purchase Whole Trade or Fair Trade products because I truly value these products. We are showing these women that we value their creations, which in turn increases their sense of self worth, and the importance of their traditions and cultural heritage.

margaret dodd says …

I love your products!

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