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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

Pamela Ray says …

Whole trade products are the best. You know you are getting the best products for a healthier you. I enjoy the products because they bring nothing bad and promote a whole goodness.

michelle torricelli says …

I have used these products before and think they are great. I have been using shea butter since the early 90s and it is wonderful to use everyday.

Joyce says …

Wholefoods Market isn't right around the corner for me; but whenever I'm in the area or passing by it's the place that calls me in. You can always find that special something for any occasion and what makes that easy----your employees!!!!!!!

jennifer rohs says …

I would love to win this.

Karen Fielder says …

I love that these products not only meet but exceed MY high quality standards and that it will provide more money to the producers of these items as well as ensuring better wages and working conditions for them.

L. A. Newman says …

I love shopping Whole Trade and reading this story makes the product more than just a bottle of something - it's someone's life. I can't wait to try this line of products. Thanks Whole Foods for passing this story along.

Amanda says …

Whole Trade products are the best way to spend wisely and teach my children that their purchases are extensions of their values.

Esperanza D says …

I like that I am supporting eco and social conscious companies

Kevin says …

It is gratifying to know that a product that I may want has value beyond an anonymous financial transaction. A persons work, whatever work it may be, should allow one to live with the respect due to one that contributes to the well-being of oneself, one's family and community. Respect is a vital component of humane trade that has all to often been absent but when present, serves all participants with goodwill. There really is enough to go around if fair is the first consideration. What if goodwill was the first profit that business seeks? ~ KFK ~

Lindsey says …

I like feeling good about what I purchase. And having what I buy help people in less fortunate countries is a bonus. Thanks, Whole Foods!

Lana O'Keefe says …

I like buying more natural, handmade products. I myself do not have much mony but compared with African people, I have no right to complain. If I can help I feel priviledged.

Ginger says …

LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to tell my children about where they came from and how we can help!

Amy says …

I love knowing where my money is going and what it is supporting!

Lisa says …

I love whole trade products. And itt makes my heart sing to know that my purchase is helping women in central Tongo. I will continue to purchase these products knowing that every purchase is making a difference in their lives.

Dione Sordi says …

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to buy Whole Trade products and to have the opportunity to support people directly and actually make a real difference with my decisions of which products to buy.

Darcy B says …

Wow! wonderful products that help make the world a better place--what more could you ask for!!

Jahanavi says …

I've heard often that what many developing countries really want is trade. Means that they have a way to make their work count, to sustain themselves. It's a vote with my dollars, something I don't always think about but something that always applies.

Jenny Ross says …

What is there not to like about this? You are receiving an awesome product, at a reasonable price, with the peace of mind that everyone involved is benefiting as they should. I love the Ethiopian whole trade coffee, and am looking forward to trying these Shea butter products. Thanks!

Linda Weinstein says …

It is interesting to find out a little more about the company that actually makes the product and the people behind the company.

Rebecca Sherwood says …

When I am shopping at Whole Foods, I always look for Whole trade products! I purposely look for them- I enjoy empowering others to live a better life.

Jackie says …

I love the fact that buying Whole Trade helps people and not just a big company. It's so important to help each other, even people we don 't know. Also the products are great.

Monica says …

I love that I can go to Whole Foods and find wholesome, organic and Fair Trade items. Whole Foods recognizes the value of these things.

Mlynn says …

It is simply amazing that across the miles we can help with visit's to our neighboorhood Whole Foods. Embracing a healthy lifestyle for body, mind and spirit is a challenge. However it is that Whole Foods brings so many items of goodness to us and aides those pushing for new success.

Amber says …

I've never noticed this product at my nearest Whole Foods. I'm sure they won't be selling something this cool at Target or Wal-mart. I love buying fair-trade!

janice Daniels says …

Great stuff for my dry skin!

Kimbers says …

It's great to have products that are not only better for us but helping other women!

Tonya Wettlin says …

Purchasing Fair Trade products is the right thing to do. With no extra effort, a purchase can change a life.

Jean D says …

Whole Trade purchasing says "I'm treating you fairly" to the beautiful women of these photos. Looking forward to trying it. Love shea butter.

Amie says …

Whole trade products are amazing because they are created FAIRLY, unlike most things in life. ;D

Shelly H. says …

It's good to know that when I purchase Fair Trade items that my money is going to the right place and I am helping someone keep their job.

nicole says …

It is an honour to be a purchaser of whole trade products. It is imperative that we consumers take seriously our responsibility to ourselves, our families and our world.

cindy says …

I like knowing that my everyday purchases can help less fortunate societies as well as the environment.

Alissa says …

Whole Trade Items will help to insure that we protect our earth.

mbatt says …

I try to buy fair trade whenever possible, and I thank Whole Foods for offering Whole Trade - it makes it easier for me to find and support fair trade with my $.

Mary Forbes says …

Good Evening! I love Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Lavender Pure Castile Soap! Lovely product and after reading the article noted above, I am happy to know that they value the skills of women too. Wonderful combination of a great product and helping the needs of great people.

Jenna says …

When I purchase Whole Trade, I picture an actual person, or group of people, in my mind. I feel confident that my money is going more directly to people who need it more than I do. I also love knowing that the products themselves are more nearly products of individual hands and care. It feels like a comfort of proximity, I suppose.

Eugenie Wu says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products helps provide an income to people in developing countries such as these women in Togo.

Linda Grant says …

What isn't to love about Whole Trade products. They are great products and you feel good about supporting people who work hard and are proud of what they accomplish. Whole Foods is a great place to shop and know you will have a wide selection of products that are good for you to use and that are good for you to purchase.

s.tai says …

great product that gives the creators and consumers more options

Susie Kessell says …

I love buying whole trade products! Not only do they supply women with opportunities that they would not otherwise have, but they are of a much better quality than others! To me it seems like everything has a more personal touch! But like I said the best part is what happens as a result, women getting assistance they need!

Julia says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products is a great way to contribute to sustainable development rather than "saving" by buying cheap products that exploit workers.

laura says …

I love purchasing Whole Trade products because I can feel good about the product I buy. Whenever I spend money, I see it as in investment. I want to support products that are ethically-minded, and that seek to help the communities in which they are located.

Debra Brodsky says …

I feel better knowing that I am helping other women. If it can be accomplished in such a simple way as purchasing Whole Trade Products, than so much the better.

Abigail Sapin says …

It feels good knowing that by purchasing whole trade products, a fair price is given to those who work so hard to get us these products. After knowing you can have a positive impact by purchasing fair trade, why would anyone ever not?

Tim says …

I want to support anyone who is trying to do the right thing. I support Whole Trade products because they do just that. By the way, I love the basket the products are in also.

Reba says …

it's nice an impact of a purchase benefits others

Claudette Hymel says …

Sounds like great stuff.

Stephanie says …

I have tried their products before and loved them. Its very good to support fair trade and products alike. We need to vote with our dollar and send a message shouting to people that we need fair products and we do not want luxuries if they come at a social/economical price for others.

Nan says …

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

Susan Stone says …

I prefer to purchase products that will enable others and directly support their families and communities. This is the way it should be. Thanks to Whole Foods for their efforts!

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