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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

Nadee Y. says …

THIS IS WONDERFUL!! I had never heard of Whole Foods Store but have just relocated and was told about a local store. Obviously, I have never purchased these products, although I have used products claiming to be shea butter. Having read about the story behind these products and how the women support themselves through our purchases, is enough encouragement to buy the product. The whole concept is just wonderful: helping hands stretching across the ocean. They help us with authentic, natural products for our bodies and we help them earn an income and keep their craft alive. BEAUTIFUL!

Beth says …

Whole Trade is about empowerment! Supporting these products is one way to make a difference in individual people's lives and build a sense of world community.

fran k. says …

I shop 3 whole foods in the area. from Naperville to Chicago to the Darien one. It is such a treat, and so healthy to prepare such wonderful foods. but the best part is not only is my family gaining so much, we are spreading help to the WORLD !

Charlene Swalec says …

What I like best about purchasing Whole Trade products is the Whole Trade Guarantee allows customers to use their buying power to create new economic opportunities for workers in the developing world. This program includes products that are grown organically or respect the Earth without formal organic certification.

AR says …

Touching...

J Knudson says …

A good cause and a great investment!

Ivy says …

I love what Whole Foods is about - helping other countries in feasible ways. It's a great way to educate consumers to the needs of others.

Gail Taylor says …

I love the quality, affordable, NATURAL products that provide for a safer & cleaner environment; providing jobs for those who live in developing countries. There's no better way for us, as consumers/customers to make a difference that have an impact on our world today! Thank you, Whole Foods Market for creating a niche for EveryDay Shea.

Lora says …

Several years ago, I spent a summer in Botswana / South Africa and will never forget the experience. Seeing it first hand, it is amazing how initiatives like these can empower people (through resources and just plain confidence!) to improve their own lives and the lives around them (especially for young women). I am a supporter!

Mark DuVall says …

The baskets contain 100% natural products which is totally awesome!

Christine Sladyk says …

I like the all natural products. I feel like I am giving back to help a much needed community.

Ginny Nichols says …

Feeling beautiful is important to all of us...but what better way to be beautiful but by buying product that support a fair wage for the producers of the products that help us feel beautiful? The expression that "Beauty is only skin deep". I disagree. Real lasting beauty comes from within us and then radiates outwards and is expressed in our faces....Supporting Fair Trade is beautiful because it strengthens women's economic positions and improves their lives and the lives of their families and communities. Now that is BEAUTIFUL!

DW says …

I will be so happy to buy this product when I visit the WF store again. Knowing that my purchase will help a woman provide for her family is such a great feeling. I also believe in products that are safe for me and my family and our environmentally friendly. The one notion I did not realize is that by purchasing this product, I''m re-instilling some traditions and crafting skills to local woman who may not have had the chance, or interest, in learning these cultural traditions and skills. Thanks for supporting this initiative!!

Gerry says …

Purchasing whole trade products one knowns that the ingredients are natural and pure and not artifical coloring or addtitives. The products are wholesome and natural. I would love to win this whole trade basket!!

Kathy Bales says …

I love to help out all I can

G J says …

it's an incredible feeling knowing that I am using a product that was made by someone thousands of miles away with the heart, soul and energy of a peoples that know so much more than the western world and are living proof of what "natural" really means. If Whole Trade lifts a spirit and transforms a life then it's worth every penny I spend.

Amanda Kim says …

Great products!

Sierra says …

Fair trade equals fair treatment and wages for the people who make the products. I believe that every living thing on this earth deserves the best life possible!

Jennifer says …

I just tried the new Alaffia and I LOVE the feeling of treating my body and the planet well and naturally! : )

Irene Laverdiere says …

Fair trade means fair prices for the producers

Lauren Cantrelle says …

EveryDay Shea is an awesome product with 100% essential oils, it meets Fair Trade regulations and employs & empowers women in West Africa. A win-win situation! Gotta love it!

Nicole Tenpas says …

Whole Food products are always of the highest quality. In addition, if you are ever not satisfied with your products, Whole Foods is very willing to do what is necessary to make you happy. Lastly, Whole Foods staff in the vitamin/skin/bodycare section are always very knowledgeable and friendly. Thank you Whole Foods!!

Larry says …

My wife and I are both users of the Every Day Shea Lavender and we love it. It's never far away from you when we're home.. and even have downsized it into smaller bottles for in the car and at work... It goes on so smooth and it's quickly absorbed into the skin. Truly a life saver for skin especially now during the winter with the cold and the snow we've experienced this year. Finally, the fact that by using this Whole Trade product helps support the women of Togo makes it all that more fantastic! Continue the good work that in turn allows us to support your efforts with our purchases. Namaste

Eddy Robey says …

I like being able to do some good through a small change in shopping habits

Bonnie Bitter says …

Until everyone has a roof over their head, clean water, food and an education, there will be no peace in the world. Projects such as this, empower those without to become all they were meant to be.

Christianne M says …

Yes the craftsman/woman is such a vital personage in any culture and they provide art and spirit needed and revered to support their communities in Africa as well as their sister communities world wide. thank you for valuing these beautiful artisans! We love Everday Shea!

Belle says …

I don't want to be one of those people who blindly purchases products without realizing the suffering/abuse that may have been involved. I can sleep soundly knowing that i am contributing ethically to a hard worker.

Jean D. says …

When I buy whole trade coffee, I know I'm not contributing to the child labor abuses prevalent in that industry. That makes me feel I'm contributing to the world in a small, positive way.

Julie says …

I like buying Whole Trade products because I like that doing something that feels so simple can actually empower other people. I enjoy helping others, and it's great to do it so easily!

carmella jasso says …

I like purchasing whole trade products because they are Conscientious about the product and it is helping a community be independant.

Lorraine C. says …

I have been battling psoriasis for 4 years. I have spent hundreds of dollars on cremes, lotions, ointments, prescriptions, etc. I discovered Everyday Shea about 6 months ago. My hands are free and clear of dry skin and breakouts. I could not be happier with the product and the fact that I am empowering women half a world away is heartwarming, to say the least. The women of Africa are truly the salt of the earth! Thank you for sharing their stories.

Debbie Cox says …

I believe in purchasing Fair Trade products, and have tried to do so for awhile now. I feel in my small way, I am making a difference in the lives of others, in a big way. I love the coffee, chocolate, and banana's. I will be trying the Everyday Shea, I'm sure it will be a wonderful addition the growing list of fair trade items!

Judy says …

Supporting a good cause.

Gwynn M. says …

I want to empower women. When they earn a good living it gives them higher standing in their families and communities. For them to be producitve outside the home, often in a social setting, also contributes to their mental wellbeing.

Erin G. says …

I'm really starting to like natural products and this allows me to continue to enjoy bath and beauty products while doing my little part in helping the world.

Bethany Perala says …

I like using whole trade products because it makes me feel better about my purchase and the fact that the money i spend is helping others and our planet.

Judy Woods says …

If we are really serious about empowering developing nations, we need to put our money where our mouth is! Buying top quality products produced sustainably by traditional methods benefits the buyer as well as making a better life for the women who produce them!

Kate says …

Love your work!!

June Selders says …

What other reasons do you need to purchase Whole Trade Products than their commitment to quality, to the environment, and to healthy working conditions? My dry skin drinks in the shea butter body with relief and thanks. It works!

Judy Douglass says …

I am glad to know Whole Foods supports this cause. It is definately a worth while cause.

Chris says …

What's best about the Whole Trade line is that it supports the preservation of traditional knowledge and crafts. Kudos to Whole Foods for respecting economic and cultural sustainability.

Michelle R says …

It's wonderful to know that by purchasing a product that it's going to help a community learn and to be more self-sufficient through whole trade with the added benefit of empowering women. Coming into Whole Foods is a teaching opportunity for our future generations. Teaching my 12 year old son what the labels on the packages mean, one of which is whole trade. I will be passing along the Everyday Shea story so he understands more clearly how whole trade directly effects the lives of individuals. Thanks Whole Foods

Marjie says …

By empowering a woman, you empower her family and that uplifts the entire community. When I have a choice, I choose Whole Trade products because it's an easy way for me to small difference.

kevin armstrong says …

I think it's fantastic that the products strive to achieve the triple bottom line that is so often just talked about.

Liz says …

i am almost out of shampoo and conditioner, and have been looking for a product like this.... now i know what to get!

Carol White says …

I love the fact that by my purchases, I am helping an individual.

Emily says …

I love that not only is it a product that hasn't been tarnished by the "big brand" companies or mass marketing; it's a product that supports grassroots companies at a real, organic, tangible level. I have always been a fan of voting via your groceries and purchasing Whole Trade items speaks to exactly that ideal. On a more personal level, I try to be very conscious of the products I not only ingest but also those that I put on my body, so it is refreshing to know that products untouched by scientific labs still exist in today's world. If anything, the presence of these products in our everyday lives seems to grow exponentially each season. Hooray for wholesomeness! p.s. I agree with Natasha's comment. :)

Joanne Napoli says …

I feel so good that global business can benefit regular people like ourselves and bypass large corporations. We can help each other to build better lives in this way and share the good of the earth with each other. Each time I use the product, I think of the farmers who created it and feel that I have done some good in the world to help my fellow humans.

Elissa Ward says …

I knew that shea really only comes from 1 area of the world and I am thrilled that this is making a difference in this population! Fair Trade rocks!

Allison Richardson says …

We all need to help!!! Saw a flyer in the store today! Let's all think about other people in need! Allison R.

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