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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

Shirley says …

I was at the store yesterday to purchase Odwallah Orange Juice. While there, I picked up spinach for a salad, parmesan chicken tenders, and artichoke/feta cakes. With those three items, my dinner was easy to prepare, and it gave me more time to watch the Olympics. I took advantage of the special for Whole Foods Granola, 2 for $5, and stocked up. Watercress is a favorite food of mine, so it was added to the cart. All in all, it was a pleasant experience, except for the sizable amount owed at check-out. Although the store is some distance from my side of town, I've found a short cut, so that justifies the long driving time to buy "healthy" food.

Ofelia Nieto says …

I like the two-fold purpose of buying products from the Fare-Trade members. 1) I benefit from the excellent products they produce; and 2) I like the feeling of helping support a worthy cause, to know that I am helping people who wants to improve their living conditions through honest work.

Laurie K says …

I like that it is a genuine product and that the people are paid for their hard work.

Caroline Brown says …

I like the idea that a portion of the proceeds go back into the community to support other projects.

Maggie Ethridge says …

Aaaahhhh! I feel so empowered when I purchase whole trade products. With life being so hectic, whole trade purchases allow me to make a difference in the lives of hardworking farmers and the planet. Thank you Whole Foods! You Rock

Jayne Chandler says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products means I can be sure I am getting quality products that have a heart. I always buy Fair Trade products whenever available and find them more often at Whole Foods.

John says …

What we want for ourselves and families we should wish for others: a quality standard of living, fair wages in a workplace that protects their health and well being, and the technology, encouragement, and financial assistance where we required to produce food in a sutainable fashion that protects the environment, and makes the land fertile for future crops, and will provide for generations of farmers and land owners to come.

R. Hornbeck says …

Wow...what at luxurious way to "think globally and act locally"! These shea products are wonderful and rewarding on so many levels. Way to go, Whole Foods!

Anne D. Hamilton says …

I use Alaffia Shea Butter Hand and Body Balm and Alaffia Basics Neem Oil and I am very pleased with the products. I wanted become a pin pal with an African women but I realized by purchasing Alaffia products I could help many women and their families through the Whole fair share cooperative.

VC says …

I have been looking for a paraben free fair trade product for so long now and am so happy that there are still some companies left who think about others too!

Ellen says …

it's important to me to support others making a fair wage for their hard work. if i deserve it, so does everyone else!

Sharon Russick says …

I am thoroughly disgusted with corporate greed and disregard for product quality and safety. Everyday Shea products are to be applauded for their standards and mission statement. I am thrilled to be able to purchase them at Whole Foods. Kudos to Whole Foods for carrying this product!

Helen Voss says …

I am particularly interested as my husband is administrating a $15m grant on sub sahara africa with emphasis on food security and women in agriculture. We are working with both west Africa and eastern Africa. The project is with USAID and University of California. I am sending this on to him and he will send it forward to appropriate persons. You are doing a good job! I wish you had a store closer to us. We live in western Yolo County and grow organic lemons. Helen Voss

Walt Samuel says …

It's nice to know from where things come beyond "Made in China".

Denise Newsome says …

I think that it's a neccessity for us to be proactive in knowing how our food is being grown and just as important - where. With that being said, it's a great trade off to be able to walk into a Whole Foods Store to buy a food product trusting that the store bought from a farmer who labored in a field, farming the food free from all that is not good for our consumption. Also, it's a good feeling knowing that by simplying purchasing from Whole Foods that I'm helping out a family. Working together as a team profits the three of us for the good and betterment of all.

Lillian Henry says …

I enjoy buying Whole Trade products because not only am I getting (or giving) a uniquely designed item but I am helping a woman (or a group of women) help support themselves and their families and their community.

Jennifer Anderson says …

I like the concrete idea that by something as simple as selecting one product over another, I can actively use my purchase power to create a new economic opportunity for workers and my peers in the developing world. The visual of my dollar zipping across the ocean into someone else's entrepeneurial pocket is powerful!

milinda neusaenger says …

Fascinating story & what an amazing product! Awe-inspiring!

Deborah Fain says …

It is nice to know that we can purchase the clean products we like while helping people, especially women, attain a better life. Hooray!

Jennifer Lyles says …

High quality products!

Mona says …

Whole Trade is fair trade and more! I love that! I had a grandmother who couldn't read/write. Opportunities like this allow these women to feel empowered and help break the cycle of poverty for their children and hopefully give them the chance at an education.

Bobbie Luce says …

Wow!!! How wonderful to know the story about a product...and such an inspiring story to boot!

Melinda Sleight says …

Feel good, look good, do good, be good. How does it get any better than that?

Susan Weakland says …

Wholefoods is one of most remarkable stores that I have ever had the pleasure of shopping at. While there is not an Wholefoods store in my state, it is so worth the trip to a neighbouring state be able to shop for foods and items that I know are good for me and my spouse and that we enjoy so much thanks to hard working people all over the world. Please keep up the good work Wholefoods and everyone around the world who makes life better for all of us.

Anabella Gonzalez says …

Products are always fresh. Price are great.

nakia Wilkins says …

What i like best about purshacing whole trade products is just about every thing, from the fair to low cost. I know the products are treated with "tlc" . And Ita about recyleing life terms in a heathy safe way helpin everyone involed.

Gloria Ware says …

Thank you so much for this information. I began purchasing these products as soon as they became available without having this background information. I traveled and brought back shea butter to share with family and friends because I realized how women were exploited by some European cosmetic companies. I am thrilled that women in Togo are being empowered, and I appreciate they way this is being done by one born and raised there. Thanks again.

Frances says …

Touching! I will look for these products next time I am in Whole foods!

Holly H says …

Whole Trade products ~what a great idea! This is how things should work; start with good products and give something back. Excellent.

Evelyn Crawford says …

I believe in the butterfly effect: the small things every one of us does has far reaching consequences. Cut someone off in traffic and the negative effect could impact exponentially (kill someone and you kill generations). Affect the world in positive ways and the whole planet grows green just a little bit more. More organic purchased means more organic grown translating to better environment and future. Purchasing fair trade shea butter makes me feel good about my purchase, my skin feels soft putting a smile on my face generating smiles on others and random acts of kindness all the while enabling people to work and feed their families. Can it get any better? ;)

Kristi says …

You can see, smell and taste the hard work that goes into making fair trade products.

Clara says …

I love the idea that I am using a product that is not only good for my body by all its natural remidies, but that it is also taking care of women across the world. It makes me happy to know that the products I use are made by women that are truley in to what they create!!!

Debbie Bell says …

Hooray for Shea....Everyday! Thank you, Whole Foods for caring. Debbie

Lisa J says …

Alaffia is a great, well priced product I started using in the summer for dry skin. I found out how really great this lotion works during this long midwest winter, no dry skin, and no irritation from chemicals. It also makes me feel good to know 10% goes back to Africa. I recommend this to everyone I know.

Helen Maros says …

I like Whole Trade products because they usually don't have synthetic chemicals, they have authentic, natural ingredients. They put world communities to work, and this is very fair and most practical.

Esther says …

I love that Whole Trade products are made from all natural ingredients and that they help people across the world who are in need become independent and able to care for themselves and their families.

Mary L says …

Thanks Whole Foods for sharing this with us. I've recently become more aware of "Fair Trade" and have made a conscious effort to think about this prior to my purchases. The timing of this is great....thanks!!

MartiC says …

I like knowing that the people who did the work in creating the products are being fairly compensated.

Carole S says …

First, I use Everyday Shea; shea butter is the best defense against chapped hands during the winter time. It's wonderful, too, that I am supporting a business that provides fair wages and jobs for people. Also, training is provided so that young people will learn traditional crafts and culture.

R Shepard says …

Just bought some Everyday Shea. Great product and it was personally valuable to make a difference with a fair trade product.

Sarah says …

I like to purchase Whole Trade products because I know that the money made is going straight to those who need it and it gives them jobs that they otherwise would not have.

Emily Pigula says …

I love the idea of buying homemade products made by people of spirit. You can feel the soul of the product when you use it! Emily

Joan Farb says …

The fair trade business model should be the mandate for all corporations!

Sandi says …

Great information! Thanks Whole Foods. You continue to rock my world.

Mandy says …

I haven't actually used the product yet, but am very interested in trying it out now that I've heard the beautiful story behind it. I love supporting companies and products that are making a difference in our world!

Natasha says …

What I like best about buying Whole Trade is the feeling of knowing that there's no guilt involved. I know that my money is helping someone make an honest living. And I also know that I'm voting with my dollars for a better business model. It's time that people realize that cheap products can only be made with cheap labor and cheap labor is often exploited labor!

Melinda says …

This is a wonderful article showing us that buying certain products can actually help people, and not just overgrown corporations. Go Whole Foods!

Cheryl says …

I DISCOVERD WHOLEFOODS about 2 months ago and the first product I ever bought was the laundry detergent OMG quality quality quality..... I just love it and recommend it . THe better part of this is not only are you purchasing a quality product that little difference in purchasing the Whole Trade product goes a long way..... just a way to make a difference where we can !!! Thank you WHOLEFOODS

Shamima says …

What I like best about purchasing Whole Trade products is the knowledge that producers and workers in these developing areas will be receiving a fair price. This will ultimately lead to thriving communities who benefit from the relationships formed through whole trade and better family living. Whole trade living promotes social, economical and environmental justice and those are 3 things we can all appreciate!

monica melgoza says …

The best thing about buying whole trade is that you are teaching a man how to fish instead giving him a fish.

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