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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

Jenny Carlson says …

What I like best about shopping with whole trade products is that its natural. The products might be expensive, depending on what you buy, but its worth the money in my pocket to help those who need it more than I do. I love taking my children in and they can actually enjoy the products as well. Right now I am using a particular product for my hair because nothing else works. But the natural product I use at the Whole Foods store has saved my skin. I am grateful for those that are sharing their products with us. That is why my money is worth putting it towards these products. They aren't expensive to me when they are well worth every penny. And I won't stop shopping for their products they sell. I hope that I can help in every way possible. Especially to these ladies with Alaffia.

marisa says …

Fair trade is wonderful because I know that the product I buy is helping the life of someone without a lot of resources rather than the bottom line of a big corporation.

marie says …

it is great that these woman have an ability to not only get help, but to earn it. gaining skills, self respect, etc...

Tracey S. says …

I appreciate that Whole Foods provides me with opportunities to buy products that help real people, and to know these people.

Rebecca Graham says …

I like the feeling of actually helping someone and providing them skills to help provide for their families.

Leyla Ozgur says …

I love the idea of being able to purchase products that will be a benefit to me, other people and the environment. It is sad to think that other products may be the opposite, harming workers or mistreating them and the environment. As morality and game theory teach us, it is better for everyone when we consider the best for everyone. This is why I think it's great that Whole Foods offers Whole Trade products.

Jennifer says …

To all those at "Whole Foods Market", I must say thank you a million times for allowing us as consumers to each make a difference in the world. Each week I get to put my vote in for organic, fair trade products because you have made it possible. I love that I'm able to purchase fair trade items and to see that I'm making a difference for West Africa, other countries, and my home ground, the United States. The more I purchase the better and stronger our world becomes as a "Whole".

Teri C says …

What I like about Whole Trade Products is that, I can feel good about purchasing a product that give more money back to the people growing and producing the product. We like their bananas.

Lana B says …

It's wonderful to know that by purchasing these products we are empowering women 1/2 a world away. And their smiles in the pictures are truly worth a thousand words!! Thank you for sharing their story w/ us. ~Lana B~

Judith says …

I would love to try this product and help people as well.

Jessica Solomon says …

What better way to show and share love than to purchase such wonderful items. The knowledge that something so simple can make such a big difference to even one person make my trip to St louis worth the four hour drive. Whole Foods is my favorite store and i look forward to seeing what all it can do with the help of its customers and employees. Great job guys, keep up the amazing work and God bless!

Carole Lasky says …

What I like best about purchasing Whole Trade Products is not only that you know the quality of the product is there but more importantly, you know that the producer will benefit from your purchase directly! I can feel good about that and it reminds me that our world is smaller than we think by purchasing a whole trade product I can help make a difference by helping a neighbor--even half-way around the world!

Lisa Roe says …

I love the purity and simplicity of ingredients!

Deborah Sachs says …

I appreciate and am grateful for the opportunity to participate in a consumer decision and transaction to the point that not only do I know the process that produced a product I need, but also that I get to do some good for someone who deserves something good.

Heather St. Marie says …

We are all responsible for each other, and this program is an excellent example of helping others help themselves. And the fact that it's preserving cultures is wonderful! All great reasons to purchase these products and continuing the cause!

Joel Garrett says …

I like Whole Trade products, because these products allow for local people to learn a trade, teach others that trade and share the profits together. That's amazing. That's a wholistic way to escape poverty. The quality of these products is just wonderful!

Beth says …

What a great combination: fair trade and great product!! Makes you feel good inside and out!

Heidi Owen says …

Fairness for a better life and world. Whole trade products are better products, made with thought....Not just about the profit.

Katie Gosser says …

I feel good about buying whole trade products. I know my money is being spent towards a good thing. It's going to people who are concious of the environment and others. I have hope that someday all products will be whole trade products, I know we have a long way to go, but I want to get back there and believe we can.

Mei Tseng says …

Everything is good. Only if the price can be more affordable will be great.

Lynne M. Meyer says …

I buy Whole Trade whenever possible for so many reasons, bu I especially like that it provides fair wages and is more environmentally friendly. I can buy with a clear conscience!

Laura says …

It is a good feeling that something as simple as my purchases are helping people across the world. Thank you so much Whole Foods.

Nick says …

I think it is beautiful that such love, hard work, and dedication is manifested in the form of such quality products. Seeing Alaffia in the stores makes me smile, every single time. =)

R. Newton says …

I like natural ingredients!

Carla says …

I buy Fair Trade because I know there are women and men in other countries that struggle daily to feed there families through work that sustains their human dignity.

Elizabeth says …

It is about the feel good aspect of fair trade, without sacrificing quality. They are made w/ care, determination and an effort to do better for themselves, with their own help. Sustainable !

Rhonda Adawi says …

I like shopping for a good cause.

Debra Casey says …

I am so excited about Maui's Whole Foods store opening next week. I can get all my Whole Foods favorites :)!!!

Carrie B says …

Empowering women to support themselves/their families and learn a trade lifts both spirits and purses! This is wonderful!

Amber K says …

What I love about buying whole trade, is not only the amazing quality of the products, but also knowing that the purchase is benefiting so many other people. People that are concerned about our world, our planet....the footprint being left behind. People that care about their community, that care about what they do. And I love how much longer the products seem to last. A little goes a long way when you use pure, quality products.

Chris Wojdyla says …

We are at a point in our society where we make decisions thoughtlessly. Need toothpaste? Just run to the drugstore and buy some. Only that toothpaste may be manufactured by people thousands of miles away who work in deplorable conditions. And it may include something toxic like melamine and you don't even know it. And most of us don't have the time or resources to do the research required to ensure that we buy products that are safe, non-GMO, fair trade, non-toxic. The great thing about buying products at Whole Foods is that you know they have done the research for you. You can walk into the store and know that you are with your purchase, you are making a positive difference in the world and in someone's life.

Sherry says …

I love whole foods and how they encourage local when possible, and how they work to empower others. I have not tried this product yet. I am putting this on my list of items to buy on my next shopping trip. Thanks Whole Foods for all you do!

Stacy O. says …

What a wonderful article. It's great to hear that not only are we helping ourselves by using the product but we are helping others as well.

Teresa says …

We are not alone on this planet. I am fortunate to have been born in a country and in a family that has the means to provide all that I need. The most important thing to me about purchasing whole trade products is to be able to share some of my good fortune to help others whi are in need.

Jennifer Bridgewater says …

When purchasing Whole trade products you are not only supporting a local economy you are also bringing something home that has been hand crafted and made with care. It just feels good.

Andrea says …

I love that everyone wins! I get a great product and in turn the people who actually do the work are getting the return!

Jenna says …

I am 22 years old with a 4 year old daughter. I use Shea Butter products from Whole Foods Fair Trade product line. Number one because I can't afford higher priced items and, number two because they are wonderful products that were made from the heart of gratitude. I am really glad to learn that Whole Foods supports these impoverished countries - who, in turn send their wares to us to continue supporting them. It's like the circle of life in The Lion King. I'm learning to be educated in this way of love for humanity through businesses like Whole Foods. Everyone should be educated about how we can all work together in this world and not how we can be educated to become wealthy for the sake of ourselves. Thank you for providing me with products I can afford, for the opportunity to help others, and for the education of a one world/one mission mindset.

Ashley C says …

I LOVE Alaffia and all that they stand for. Part of their business being located in Washington lets me feel that I am supporting a local/small business, but it is also wonderful to know by supporting them I am helping another small business AND another culture...the one in Africa! Supporting their business lets them know they matter, and that they can be successful in all parts of their lives. And if we can all pay it forward, the impact is global :)

Christine says …

Studies have shown that on of the best ways to encourage development and alleviate poverty is to empower women to enter the economy, bringing in money for themselves and their families. Congratulations to everyone who made this happen and much success in the future!

Evie Herroz says …

I love how its kinda like you pat it forward, You buy an item you love and by buying that you are helping someone else what a great feeling its what i call a win,win situation.

Becky says …

It is great to know that simple choices such as choosing to purchase and use fair trade products can make such a big difference in the lives of others.

Dawn says …

The "Save Your World" products first made me really aware of what Whole Trade really means and does. It (Whole Trade) is truly a benefit to everyone, not to just the people involved in producing in the product and the better quality the consumer realizes, but to the world.

Suzanne Le says …

I like to use Whole Trade products because when I use something good for me that's also good for others, it's truly a win-win for all involved.

Rose P. says …

I buy Whole Trade because the hard working people in developing countries deserve to have some money come back to their communities. It's a great way to give and I am purchasing a good product at the same time.

Marilyn Hjort says …

Everyday Shea is certainly a product worth supporting.... but could it really not give back more than 10% of sales.? I note some of your other products do not even mention a give-back figure.

Debbi F says …

I think that all people should be able to be compensated fairly for the products they provide so that they can take care of their own families. There is great pride in doing so. I shop at fair trade stores and fins many wonderful and beautifulitems for myself and for gifts. Thank to those who are bringing us those "gifts!"

Jennifer Jhon says …

I like purchasing Whole Trade products because I like supporting the communities where these products come from. I know these products are made by people who are being fairly paid for their work, and not being exploited.

Rose A. Nestor says …

All too often we forget about the privations suffered by people just like us to whom the hands of fate have just dealt worse cards--horror stories can be told. Fair Trade products, essentially, empower communities and can make a sea change in farm workers and artisans' lives. Best of all, Whole Foods Market' Whole Trade products, as they are a store brand, are less costly and more widely available than many other fair trade products, making the ability to buy fair trade products within reach of more people, which I, for one, greatly appreciate and directly benefit from. Thank you for reading my comment.

Catrina McFate says …

What I like best about purchasing Whole Trade products is that I can feel like I am taking care of myself while also helping to take care of the world. What we buy is like a vote, and when I vote for Fair trade or Organic, or what ever it is, my voice is being heard and my dollar is making a difference.

Krystina Bair says …

I enjoy buying fair trade because it creates a win-win for all involved. It serves the greater good :) If every person and company on this planet could just strive for that a little more each day we'd turn this world around in no time!

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