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Everyday Shea Helps West Africans Every Day

By Olowo-n'djo Tchala, February 16, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Olowo-n'djo Tchala
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.
Category: Whole Trade


1 Comment


Laurie Hughes says ...
Hi Whole Foods, My choice is always whole traded products; from chocolate to coffee and beautiful artisan items, I am reminded of the abundance given to me. The connection I feel with the exceptional people producing these wonderful gifts is life changing! Namaste always, Laurie
02/18/2010 12:42:07 PM CST
Margaret Mapes says ...
This West African community is looking for a handup, not a handout, like many other startup businesses in some of the poorest regions in the world. We need to continue to support these creative efforts to help these people, and thank businesses like Whole Foods for having the moral compass to do their part. Thank you.
02/18/2010 12:42:19 PM CST
Lindsay says ...
Buying Whole Trade is important to me because I like knowing that, even though I'm paying a bit more for an item, it isn't at the expense of someone who helped make that product.
02/16/2010 1:56:49 PM CST
Marlise Taylor says ...
I absolutely LOVE the Whole Trade product line. They make my skin so soft and smooth. In addition, the smell great! Also, the prices of the products are reasonable for the quantity received. Particularly, I absolutely love the Everyday Shea Lavendar bath wash because it is non-irritating and has a wonderfully, relaxing smell! Just love it!!
02/16/2010 2:09:53 PM CST
Angela Walker says ...
There is no greater feeling than knowing that we all can profit from making the world a better place to live. Over the past year, this concept has transformed my way of life. Not only my life, but the lives of those all over the world. What others think to be little changes, I believe these changes contribute towards great accomplishments. I plan to continue to purchase products that raise the level of awareness of other parts of the world.
02/18/2010 1:49:37 PM CST
Amanda says ...
Having lived in Africa while serving in the Peace Corps, I have seen not only the effects of devastating poverty but also the immense impact of income generating cooperatives. It's amazing what happens when people think beyond themselves and support fair trade, in effect supporting women, children and families on the other side of the world. Fair trade = fair wage = opportunity!
02/18/2010 1:48:34 PM CST
alexa says ...
so good to be able to help women worldwide.
02/18/2010 12:44:54 PM CST
alexa says ...
so good to be able to help women worldwide. we need to think globally.
02/18/2010 12:45:34 PM CST
Marianne says ...
I love that I get a great product and women across the world are empowered.
02/18/2010 12:45:42 PM CST
Darby Cordova says ...
T/product, thought it is truly wonderful, is secondary to t/good work it's purchase produces. Thank you for letting me help others & enjoy excellent products.
02/18/2010 1:29:02 PM CST
Patty says ...
I love supporting products that empower women and also maintains a traditional craft.
02/18/2010 1:30:21 PM CST
Darby Cordova says ...
T/product, though it is truly wonderful, is secondary to t/good work it's purchase produces. Thank you for letting me help others & enjoy excellent products.
02/18/2010 1:30:50 PM CST
Kristin Barley says ...
I've always loved shea products and that it comes attached to such a great and noble cause only makes buying it all the better. I haven't tried Everyday Shea yet, but I will and I will use it knowing it was produced by loving hands and helping people worldwide.
02/18/2010 1:33:10 PM CST
Susan Shortall says ...
I am very heppy to purchase Whole Trade Products knowing that I am helping poor, impoverished people, and knowing that these people care about the quality of product they produce. I am confident knowing that these products have been, in most cases, hand crafted and passed down from generation to generation. I appreciate and use, quality, natural Whole Trade Products as often as possible, and anything I can do to support these hard working, caring people while also benefiting my good health...well, it's just the right thing to do. Thank you, Susan
02/18/2010 1:38:19 PM CST
Amber B says ...
I haven't purchased any of your products, but I would love to try them out!
02/16/2010 4:07:26 PM CST
kath h says ...
I support Whole Trade and Fair Trade whenever I can. I feel that their support, encouragement and expansion benefits not only the peoples involved and their lands, but the entire planet. We have to realize and act on the fact that we are not alone in this world or that our actions impact others. Companies such as Alaffia, have put into practice what others only talk about. Those who can support these groups and thus help provide education, a living wage, self respect, and a potential career for our brothers and sisters, have a mandate to participate. I especially appreciate the fact that we can help empower other women to succeed and have the ability to support themselves and families. Thank you for this opportunity.
02/16/2010 4:10:12 PM CST
valerie hess says ...
I will buy almost anything from a women's cooperative! Helping women get out of poverty, have work with dignity, provide for the families is one of the smartest best things we can do to make the world a better, safer place for us all.
02/16/2010 4:33:25 PM CST
Antonio Miller says ...
Whenever we purchase whole trade it reminds us tha we are "one world". My actions in my neighborhood, effect my neighbors of the world. I can make it a positive or a negative effect. Thank you for helping me to make it positive.
02/18/2010 11:24:32 AM CST
Shayna says ...
Purchasing Whole Trade products is not only ethically, economically (in a global sense), and environmentally sensible, but it's also a guarantee that I'm getting a top-quality product. I'm excited to see Everyday Shea and all the good work behind it because I have very sensitive skin, and the Everyday Shea soaps have saved it. I had been using Dr. Bronner's for years and having a so-so response from my skin, but the Everyday Shea soap has turned it all around. I'll never use anything else! So one more benefit to buying Whole Trade: naturally healing and promoting good health in one's body! I'm so glad I can help support a cooperative that truly makes the world a better place for women and their communities.
02/18/2010 11:24:48 AM CST
Lisa-Marie says ...
It's an added treat to know that my luxury lotions purchases will benefit women in a wonderful community so far away.
02/18/2010 12:52:58 PM CST
Christina Rodriguez says ...
I've always loved fresh shea! I think this prize is a great way to help empower women across the world. I actually buy shea from a small store in Brooklyn, NY that is owned by West Africans. I will always support products that are made by people in a community rather than a company's machinery and chemically added products. Thanks for sharing!
02/18/2010 1:03:11 PM CST
Sandra DeSmedt says ...
I love buying fair trade products, because i feel good knowing that the people who made them are being paid a living wage and are not being exploited.
02/18/2010 1:02:14 PM CST
Lisa says ...
The first time I tried Everyday Shea products was about a year ago. I think the products are among the best I have ever used. I have given many of the products as gifts as well. Now that I have read the associated article I feel even better about purchasing the products. Keep up the great work!
02/18/2010 1:00:27 PM CST
Renee Weitzner says ...
I basically buy Fair Trade products because it's the right thing to do. We all benefit from Fair Trade products: the producers, the consumers and everyone in between. A rising sea raises all boats-- and that's all to the good. We get to know that we are helping people at the same time are helping ourselves feel good, think smart, and feel fulfilled.
02/18/2010 12:59:05 PM CST
Amanda Reid says ...
I always look for the opportunity to buy fairly-traded products. So much of what we buy in the Western World is at the expense of those who are struggling. I'm glad these are being sold at Whole Foods! Now, if we can only get fair-trade bananas!
02/18/2010 12:58:27 PM CST