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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

Sheridan Phillips says …

Whole Trade products help US consumers connect the dots of global capitalism and become aware of both sides of that coin - that our business, our relatedness, one with the other, can be destructive or beneficial. Unawareness is perhaps the worst of evils, to be so self-absorbed in the consumer culture that we don't understand the true costs of this reality we've been sold. I appreciate the enlarging of the world, of the faces of real people, of the call to consciousness that Whole Trade products offer. We must do more that all peoples have the opportunity for decent and dignified lives.

Sarah O. says …

What an amazing opportunity that has been giving to these women! Vote with your dollars and support wonderful efforts like Everyday Shea!

Jessica M says …

I love that I don't have to worry about the products that I purchase. It also feels great to know that I am helping more than just me and my family.

Lorien says …

I love buying Whole Trade chocolate bars. Knowing that not only are the ingredients delicious but they are produced in a fair way make your chocolate bars by far my favorite!

Sarah Gallagher says …

I love that Whole Trade products truly help people who need it, and are FAIR about it! Sarah Gallagher, LMT

lidandan says …

I buy whole trade because I know everyone in the process is treated fairly.

Michelle Hostetler says …

Buying a great product(s) + helping other women in need= perfect purchase.

Lisa Pfeffer says …

I love this line of face cream, cleanser and toner. It feels so natural on my skin, and makes it look so good! I also love the fact that my purchase can help the women of West Africa achieve their dreams.

Elizabeth Rodriguez says …

Buying Fair trade trade products from Dagoba chocolate to Traditional Medicines, even to the yarn I crochet with, makes me feel like I can make a difference to people by my simple, yet profound contribution. My father used to be a migrant worker so this is a subject very true and important to me: to treat people and the earth fairly, honestly and in the end we can all be well, enjoying these wonderful products being offered. It feels good to know that our choices can have such a positive impact.

Betty says …

Thanks for the picture and story of the women. Not only do I feel good knowing my money helped the producers but Alaffia products are excellent! I've tried Alaffia lotion, which smells delicious and helps my hands in the dry winter.

Mia Baudry says …

I've been purchasing Alaffia products for more than a year now. Talk about combined sustainability, fair trade, social awareness, female empowerment and product quality ( purest shae ever): what's not to love!! I live in Seattle so in addition to all this I am also helping a Seattle based company. I feel like every penny is well spent and my skin feels and smells good in the process!

Marika says …

I like everything about the idea of buying Whole Trade products - my top two reasons are that it ensures better wages and working conditions for workers, and that it promotes caring for the environment.

Erin says …

What a winning situation for everyone. Natural products for us and a way to provide a product and work for these women. Thanks so much for carrying these products Whole Foods!

Heidi B says …

WOW! Empowering women what a basic, but forgotten concept in our society. I feel empowered just from having gotten the chance to read this. I am excited about coming in to purchase!Thank you for sharing! Heidi B

Mary Hudson says …

We can make the world a better place for everyone

Kim B says …

Buying Whole Trade is a responsible purchase. Just to know that I am empowering a woman to have confidence and provide for her family fairly,is huge. I would rather buy something made or provided from women like this than a factory or a large corporation. There is love put into these kinds of products and it shows in the quality!

April says …

this is a very touching example of what fair trade can do for everyone it's so important to help people provide for their families with their skills love it :)

Ann says …

I love buying things that I love, but also helps someone else. It's a win-win.

Rhonda Gendron Murphy says …

If anyone has ever travelled to or lived in or is from a so called "thirdworld" country(term I personally dislike", as it comes with being classified as inferior,) . there is more to this than what is on the blog.. it is not all "nice" about a minute ago ·

Rhonda Gendron Murphy says …

Too bad that the governments in some countries are so bad, that the poorer people have to depend on their products being exported so far away.. that leaves a big carbon footprint and a whole lot of plastic being used in the packaging.. so I am not sure if ahat is very green and even good at all , for production of something that is really unnecessary.. 41 minutes ago ·

Melissa Davis says …

I am glad to know that buying these products we are helping others. That is a great feeling. That is how God wants it. People helping people.

Julieann says …

Love, Love, Love everything about Whole foods~~and helping others is such a plus too:) Julieann

Rebecca says …

I like buying Whole Trade because I feel good about helping others make an honest living and feeling like I am contributing to the overall well-being of others and our environment we all share.

Joanna says …

supporting companies/products like this really makes you feel you are making a conscience choice. A choice that effects more than the store, company you are buying from.. but the real earth of the matter. And how easy a choice is that! Your money goes here or there, why not where it's gonna make a difference?

Gwen McBrien says …

i like purchasing Whole Trade to be a better steward of the environment and take care of what God has given us. Also I love this idea of offering a trade and not just aid. My daughter is going to Togo this summer on a missions trip!

Laetitia G says …

Hello, There are so many aspects I like when I purchase products from the Whole trade. First of all, the quality of the products is very good. They are natural without all the chemicals we can find in other regular products. When I buy a Whole Trade product, I know that part of my money is going directly to the local producer. I will be proud to buy products from Everyday Shea because it comes from Togo (Where my family is from) and in a way, it helps me reconnect with my roots. I also find it interesting to try world trade products because it's a way to learn other cultures and you know you are helping the right people at the same time.

tricia says …

I am inspired and touched by this beautiful story. It makes me want to be a better person, inside and out. I have fallen in love with the beautiful , strong , healthy women in this article. "Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me" thank you for sharing!

Siri L says …

I love these products! They are good for the skin and good for the soul.

Tessa says …

I LOVE LOVE this product! Not to mention fair trade, I love helping other women across the world. Thank you Whole Foods blog for telling people about this product and where/who it comes from.

paula says …

I love buying products like these from Whole Foods. Whole Foods is truly one place that I trust when they say they are helping organizations. There are many positives and no negatives to list here. These products are made from natural ingrediants, truly natural ingrediants and there are no added chemicals and things that we try to avoid putting on or in our bodies. And, the fact that women so far away in a place where poverty in the norm are working hard to make this product and are being helped in the process makes it all the more worth buying. Shea butter is the ultimate for your skin. I'm exited to learn about this product!

Alex says …

This post says it all - Whole Trade purchases empower people. Great work WF!

Jane Luke says …

It's a win-win. The women (truly lovely) are helped by the sales of the product they make and then we are doubly blessed by our purchases. Blessed by the opportunity to help a great cause and blessed by the products themselves. I have found shea, especially Everyday Shea, to be wonderful for my skin and hair. We use it on the grandbabies too. Thank you!

Erica Di Bella says …

The quality of these products blows anything you will buy at a big box store out of the water! This is just another way of doing something good for you and good for others, small changes may not seem like they have a big impact but to the people you are helping it makes a big impact. I love telling others about whole foods and the products they sell, my husband is starting to become more "green" everyday!

Steph says …

I love buying goods that are whole trade as the money I spend is helping to make a difference in the lives of others.

Adrienne Dollyhigh says …

I think it is of the utmost importance that we help build the economies of developing countries.

Robin says …

Hooray for the whole and fair trade practices that allow for gainful employment for these beautiful Togolese women! And hooray for Alaffia's wonderful, nourishing products! Buy for yourself, buy for your families, buy for your friends, buy for your associates...and spread the word of using the kinds of products that have a place in changing the world. With each purchase we vote for an end to the horrors post-colonial poverty.

melissa mc says …

I enjoy purchasing Whole Trade products since I know this action is enabling someone else to live a decent life for themselves and/or family as well as empowering their community and neighbors to improve their personal situations -- thank you for the chance at trying these lovely items!

Becky says …

It is so important to purchase products which make a real difference in the lives of those who produce them. In this way, we can all make the world a better, stronger and more peaceful place. What a wonderful lesson to teach all generations....as I try to model this to my children and students!' Thank you Whole Foods =)

M. Clarisa says …

While doing something routine and inconsequential on the surface, we can help an entire community, and have an effect that we may never fully understand within the "industrialized" world. Thats why I buy Whole Trade.

Margie Marksthaler says …

Helping those who need our help the most in the hopes that they can eventually go on to help others - it's paying it forward!

Barbara Wilson says …

The best thing i like buying whole trade is knowing where my money is going and knowing its going to help someone make a better living : ) Not making a fat cat, fatter

kathy says …

I like knowing that the product I'm purchasing has been made by someone that is getting paid fairly for their work.

Wehaf says …

What a powerful post! Stories like this are an everyday reminder that when we buy fair trade products we are supporting fair economic systems and empowering women who have been otherwise shut out of the global economy.

Leah says …

This story is exactly the reason that I love Whole Foods. I learned long ago that there is a big difference in free trade and fair trade. I say FAIR TRADE all the way! I enjoy buying items like these because I can see exactly where it comes from and know that I am truly helping someone else by purchasing it.

Dawn scire says …

I like purchasing whole trade products because it helps other people at the same time. I feel that I'm doing good at the same time I'm making a purchase. It's the thought of empowering others that's encouraging and knowing that one is not just 'throwing' money into commercial and/or sweatshop labor.

Trail (Oven Aversion) says …

I love that products like this help empower women and give them a voice. It also makes you feel good when your "money talks" and says such positive things.

Theresa says …

would love to try this product(s)

Sarah E. Freeh says …

I enjoy supporting fair trade as I believe all people deserve equal treatment and pay for their labors to survive and provide for themselves and their families. I love to support self employed people and small businesses as often as I can.

michelle rosborough says …

Its good to know that buying these products help people

Lori Hill says …

I love the fact that the choices we make when shopping can make a huge impact across the world!

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