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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

Abby Gegeckas says …

I love Whole Foods because they do give background information on their products, as with this story about West Africans and Shea!

Michelle Abrams says …

I love this stuff and use the shea butter everyday! I am delighted to support these women and their endeavors.

Daniela says …

Great article. Love Whole Foods!!!

Jane Myers says …

I feel great about buying products from people that are working hard to help themselves as well as the community they are a part of. In my shopping efforts I first make an effort to buy local in season products but when what I need doesn't fit into that requirement I seek out the Fair Trade vendors where I know that the people doing the hard work to generate a quality, organic product are being paid fairly for their efforts.

alh1203 says …

love buying fair trade becuase I know that humane conditions were used to produce the products

Beth says …

I love that I can buy products that are not only good quality but also help good people....thanks for carrying Alaffia!

Jana Cutler says …

Purchasing items that are Whole Trade is easy for me to feel like I am helping out more people than just myself. I have 2 adopted daughters from the West African country of Liberia. I have experienced what the value of the American dollar can do for one person in this country. It is nice to know that a corporation is protecting their values and helping the people who can really use the money to create a better life for themselves. I do not want to be a part of a corporation that is using and abusing the land or people of a nation. I am very careful about what I buy and where it comes from. I know what the life a woman or child can become if they are not given a quality of life that is sustainable. Shopping for items(whole trade) that are a part of the life of people from my daughters' home country (or area near their home country) helps me feel like I could return to their village and help them just a little bit. It gives a better quality of life that others may not have the chance to experience.

Allison Beach says …

I love that the Whole Trade products are giving women the power to become entrepreneurs! I think that this sends a great message to girls that they can be successful business owners, even if they previously thought that this was something they couldn't do as a female. It's great girl power! Thanks for all you do!

mary ann varanelli says …

Purchasing Whole Trade products just feels like the right thing to do. Helping to support hard work and being rewarded with great products in return is the best way to shop!

Abby Bittman says …

It is so freeing and empowering to know that we are helping people on the other side of the world. Not only are we putting our money to good use, but we are also getting a great product in return! It's like an endless chain of caring and love.

Alda Cummings says …

thanks for a wonderful store and a nice promotion and products

Beth Haviland says …

It is great to know that a company like Alaffia allows disadvantaged women to help provide for their families and gives them a sense of empowerment.

Ann Marie says …

I love knowing that the people who are really trying to make healthy food and heal the planet are getting a fair price for all the hard work they are doing. I like contributing to the smaller farmers and avoiding the larger corporations. There is much more love in food produced in this manner!

Nicole says …

I love using shea butter and other natural body products, I think they are simply amazing for your skin. The great thing about this is that it is not just for your own good, you are getting the chance to help someone in need, and that is so fantastic!

Carol says …

I like seeing the pictures of the people who create these products for others with their own hands and love. I like knowing when I buy these things I am enabling people and especially women to create better lives for themselves and their loved ones. I am sure they like being self sufficient and are rightfully proud of they products they produce. I am happy to pay a little more so that they can continue on a path to self sufficiency. I'd rather see my money gp to those who produce the products than to the already overpaid corporate executives who already have more than they will ever need.

Beverly Griffin says …

A Great Cause!

Cindy H. says …

Although I have been interested in fair trade, green practices, I am much more aware of it now and am "doing" instead of "thinking about it". It's not easy, but I feel that a trip to Whole Foods helps alleviate the question "Is this purchase going to serve the greater good? Will I help sustain the local food farms and coops?" I don't have to think, research, and bring a list of names that I should trust when I go to Whole Foods. Thank you for this.

judith says …

i love whole foods--i can find all my organic food in one store

Caroline Marcos says …

What is Shea in its raw form look like? It feels good purchasing a product knowing that it supports women's talent sense of purpose in west africa!

Bambi Good says …

I am thrilled to have just discovered that the bottle of Everyday Shea which I bought earlier this winter and which we use every day is empowering and enabling women in West Africa to lead lives that help them gain skills and dignity and help them to support their families and communities. We also buy other Fair Trade products because we know that people's hard labor is being honored and that they are able to feed their families which they very well might not be able to do working for an exploitive individual or corporation.

Janine Conk says …

It is so rare to find a company that puts values before profit, while not sacrificing quality. I love that my purchase allows these women to achieve goals and make a better world for themselves and their families. Thank you for allowing me to help make our world a better place for all.

Chris D. says …

I love buying products that go directly to helping people. It's great that they have these skills and can pass them along. Thanks for the story. Very uplifting!

Ryan Andrews says …

Treat others how you want to be treated.

Hannah says …

I love Whole Trade products because I can feel good about my purchase, knowing that the workers who are making the products are being respected as human beings and are benefiting from my purchase. An added benefit is that they are environmentally sound products!

Mary Anne Little says …

It is extremely gratifying to know of the work that is being done to bring economic viability to an area imbued with poverty and chronic unemployment. The knowledge that those in the Allifia program no longer have to rely on the assistance of political and charitable organizations is empowering in so many ways to the women of the Togo women's cooperative. One can see the joy on the faces of those who are pictured above during their work creating the Everyday Shea products. The purity of the natural ingredients, guaranteed by Whole Foods Markets, is incentive in itself for consumers to make selections from the Shea Butter body and hair items. That and the awareness of the invaluable contribution of enabling a distinct and beneficial cultural tradition to be continued by younger generations of natives of Togo make use of Everyday Shea a natural and rewarding experience.

Karen says …

What I like best about purchasing Whole Trade products is the fact that I am doing good for everyone involved, including myself. I am paying it forward with my everyday life and also paying myself by using good healthy products that benefit others and the earth.

Mary Anne Little says …

(Can you please correct the spelling of "Alaffia" in my post just submitted. Thank you. Mary Anne Little)

Anthony says …

THe best part of purchasing Whole Trade products is the human green touch involved in the entire process!

Daniell Parker says …

I like purchasing Whole Trade products first of all because I know they will be the best quality. Second, I feel more a part of a community as if I were buying from a neighbor even though its global, it feels local. I also feel like it makes a difference in someone elses life as well as my own.

Daisy Bennett says …

This post brought me such joy! I believe that everyone should support groups like this. I support Whole Trade products completely. They provide me with the opportunity to support companies that are about uplifting each other and humanity. Its about respect, empowerment and the fundamental human right to be able to support yourself and your family. Thank you!

Kat says …

I purchase these products because I firmly believe business is not only a source of empowerment, but a means to bettering a whole community. The old saying about teaching a man to fish, same concept. Plus the products are a way to try and help find ways of producing consumer goods without destroying the land in the process - the fear I have about the Amazon, for example.

cherie says …

I like buying Whole Trade products as it makes me feel as if I am making a small difference in the world by helping those less fortunate to be able to strive for a better life for themselves and their families.

Nadee Y. says …

Just moved to an area that has a local Whole Foods and I am excited! Having never purchased any of the products and after reading this article I am encouraged to buy. It makes me feel great knowing my purchases help provide an income for the women, giving them an opportunity for a better life. Interestingly, By helping them, they will, in turn, help me to have better skin with an authentic pt

Tom Albrecht says …

I love buying whole trade products because it's a good thing support companies that treat their workers right.

Becky says …

I love that it helps give people in Africa the chance to get out of poverty.

Amy says …

We now have a WholeFoods within walking distance of our home-- what a treat! Not only am I getting great quality, I can leave the car at home, take my recycled bags, and bring my infant son out for a walk all while supporting great causes like this!

MICHELE COHEN says …

It's the singular fact that I can still purchase non-GM foods at Whole Foods. I utterly the most important issue on the planet because if Monsanto wins control over all the seeds in the world then organic products as we know them will cease to exist. That is why the Whole Foods option is vitally important so that consumers can vote with their wallet.

Gail Offen says …

whole Trade products not only make me feel good using them, I feel good buying them too. Win-Win!!

candace nadon says …

It feels great to support fair trade practices - keep providing these great products!

Deborah Sheehy says …

I've been on the 'hunt' for a new body moisturizer and can't think of a better product to buy... Happy to become a part of helping those much less fortunate than ourselves. Way to go Whole Foods Market!

Eva Mack says …

for fun

Donna Norbet says …

I love the preservation of culture, and sharing the products with the world.

Liz says …

The best thing I like about purchasing these products in the past is that part of the proceeds are returned to West African community projects.

Beatriz Peña says …

I bought the cream vanilla Everyday Shea and brought it to the dental school I work at. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and the students loved it! Thank you for carrying these wonderful products and helping communities. They very well deserve it! Beatriz Peña

Timmi Rothenbuehler says …

I feel good about purchasing Whole Trade products because you know they were made and sold by real people like myself, and not produced by a corporation with only revenue & profit based priorities.

Becky Urbansky says …

I like purchasing whole trade products because not only are they better than what is currently available, but they also help people in their livelihood. So it is a win-win for both parties - the seller and the buyer. Keep up the good work!

Penny says …

What I like best about purchasing whole trade products is the quality, value and benefit to myself and others. When I buy products, such as these, that are safe and healthy for me, I feel good about treating myself. The added benefits are that I end up using less of the product because it works so well and lasts longer, and the makers of the products are helped in growing their business and are able to support their families. Penny

Marianne Wood says …

The fact that these products meet Whole Foods guidelines plus that they benefit deserving women with a hand up , not a hand out, is enough reason to try these products. Thanks for making a difference.

Helen says …

Thank you for the Whole Trade Guarantee and I look forward to purchasing and supporting Alaffia.

Bebe says …

Purchasing these products actually helps people...it doesnt just make corporate america wealthy.

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