Alaffia aims to alleviate poverty and advance gender equality through the fair trade of indigenous resources and community empowerment initiatives.
Over the years, there have been moments that shaped the natural products industry. One such moment occurred when Olowo-n’djo Tchala met Prairie Rose Hyde. No one could have imagined a young woman from rural Washington and a young man born and raised in rural Togo, West Africa with a sixth grade education would go on to build one of the most successful fair trade body care organizations in the natural products industry. No one except them, that is. Olowo-n’djo Tchala was born and raised in the village of Kaboli, Togo where he shared a single 8’x10’ room with his mother and seven siblings. After failing to afford school tuition, Olowo-n’djo dropped out of school in the sixth grade. In the years after, he worked alongside his mother on her farm. In 1996, Olowo-n’djo met and fell in love with Peace Corps Volunteer, Prairie Rose Hyde, while she worked in Kaboli. After her service ended, the couple moved to the United States with a shared goal: finding a way to alleviate poverty in West Africa. Rose entered a graduate program at the University of California, Davis studying International Agricultural Development and Ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people and plants. Olowo-n’djo studied English and earned a degree in Organizational Theory. Determined to make a difference in his home country, Olowo-n’djo applied for a $50,000 business loan and, not familiar with the American banking system, did not understand why the bank could not fulfill his request when he had no personal financial assets. Eventually, Rose’s brother offered his house as collateral and the couple obtained the loan, traveled to Togo, and formed what we know today as Alaffia.
a•laf•fi•a \ ah-la-fee-uh \ noun. A common greeting or valediction originating from central Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. Alaffia means a state of peace, health, and well-being.
THE EBAN SYMBOL
Photo: Ben Moon
Eban is a traditional West African symbol representing protection, security, and love.
Fair trade is a movement of individuals and organizations working to ensure producers in economically disadvantaged countries receive a greater percentage of the price paid by consumers. While there are several definitions of fair trade, they all include: Fair Trade Price: base price for raw ingredients or goods is adjusted higher than open market price. Price Premium: a percentage above the base fair trade price is paid into a separate account for development projects in producer communities. Working Conditions: fair trade operators must adhere to basic human & labor rights, including the right to organize, no child labor, access to health care, and so on. Environmental Stewardship: fair trade organizations must minimize environmental impact. To Alaffia, fair trade means paying a fair price or wage in the local context, providing equal employment opportunities, engaging in environmentally sustainable practices, providing healthy and safe working conditions, being open to public accountability, and reducing the number of middlemen between producers & consumers. We believe fair trade should be environmentally, economically, & culturally sustainable and give local communities the opportunity to self-empower.
FAIR TRADE SHEA & COCONUT
The cost to handcraft shea butter and coconut oil at the Alaffia Cooperative is over two times the price of these same butters at West African ports. Why is our cost higher? Nut prices: We pay 15-25% above market price for shea nuts. Fair wages: Our cooperative members receive a salary more than 4 times the average family income in Togo. Benefits: Cooperative members also receive full medical care, employment security, & one month of paid vacation each year.
Alaffia cooperative members washing shea nuts - SokodĂŠ, Togo 2013
WHAT DOES FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED MEAN? Fair trade certification is an independent, neutral third party certification verifying an organization upholds fair trade, social, and environmental standards in their operations. Alaffia is certified Fair for Life: Social & Fair Trade by IMO (Institute for Marketecology), one of the first and most renowned international inspection & certification agencies for organic and social (fair trade) accountability. IMOâ€™s Fair for Life certification combines strict social and fair trade standards with adaptability to local conditions. You can read more about IMO at www.imo.ch and more about the Fair for Life certification at www.fairforlife.org.
Olowo-n’djo & his mother, Abiba Agbanga Tchala
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
School School Bikes Eyeglasses Maternal Supply Distributed Benches Schools Donated Healthcare Built Recipients Recipients Built
300 300 300 500 500 500 1,000 1,500 1,000 500 1,000 500 1,000 1,000 1,000 500 2,000 800 2,800 1,000
500 500 500 1,000 4,000 8,000 10,000 17,625 10,500 12,000 800 2016 4,450 9,142 382
50 50 50 50 100 100 150 150 150 200 200
57,575 32,842 7,482 2,261
500 500 1 3 1
500 1,200 3,000
70 70 100 100 100 400 700 1,000 700
Projects transparency & accountability verified through annual audits. Last audit: Jan. 19th 2017
Growing up, Olowo-n’djo witnessed the hard work of his mother and the other women in his community. Though he had seven siblings and there was sometimes not enough food to feed them all, Olowo-n’djo’s mother always shared what they had with other families. The importance of kindness and giving was instilled in him from a very young age. Women are the backbone of African societies. Without their hard work, our societies would experience extreme difficulties. Despite this, women in West Africa have long been excluded from the formal education sector, which means many cannot read or write. This limits their employment opportunities. One could assist these women by donating money or helping them to find employment, but Olowo-n’djo and Rose knew this process would not create sustainable communities. Alaffia’s women’s cooperatives celebrate what these women have to offer -- their unique skills, traditions, and knowledge. They are compensated a fair wage for their skills and are able to support their families, while maintaining traditions and managing a sustainable resource. Alaffia’s Fair for Life: Social & Fair Trade Certification confirms Alaffia meets standards concerning fair working conditions, environmental performance, and community relations. Unlike other fair trade certifications, Fair for Life focuses additionally on local conditions, fair prices, social empowerment, and direct support by means of a Fair Trade Development Fund. Shea butter and coconut oil serve as the main ingredient in most Alaffia products. Raw shea butter and coconut oil are shipped to Olympia, Washington where Rose formulates effective ingredient combinations using plant and other natural materials to create the finished products. Alaffia’s success is not simply measured by profit. Our success is measured by empowerment. Empowerment Projects are Alaffia’s mission in action, funded by the sales of Alaffia products. Alaffia invests in our communities because it is our moral responsibility and to ensure African resources empower African communities. The goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality. Our Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, FGM Eradication, Eyeglasses and Reforestation. All of Alaffia’s projects empower Togolese communities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and rise out of poverty.
MATERNAL HEALTH PROJECT Each year in West Africa, 160,000 women die due to complications with pregnancy and childbirth. Over her lifetime, an African woman has a 1 in 32 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to 1 in 2,400 in Europe (UNICEF, 2012). There are several reasons for the high maternal mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, including extreme poverty and inadequate infrastructure. While the problem seems insurmountable, it is possible to save lives with basic health care and gender equality. In 2006, we started our Maternal Health Project following the World Health Organization’s recommendations for reducing maternal death rates. Our Maternal Health Project has two parts; The first is a direct approach to the immediate problem. Each year, we fund full pre- and post-delivery care, including special and urgent needs, to women in rural Togo. Alaffia product sales have paid for the births of 4,463 babies in rural Togolese communities through the Togo Health Clinic system. The Alaffia Women’s Clinic Project is the second part of our women’s health efforts. In 2007, we began to partner with local Togolese health clinics to provide information and training on all women’s health issues, including nutrition, preventing female genital mutilation, and much more. We believe saving mothers is a necessary step in reducing poverty. When a mother dies, her surviving children’s nutrition & health suffer, and they are more likely to drop out of school, reducing their ability to rise out of poverty.
4,463 Births Funded
Maternal Health Project Recipient - Brigithe Gnaro - Kadambara, Togo 2011
Abidé Awesso - Maternal Health & FGM Eradication Coordinator
Hodalo Katakouna and her baby, Alaffia
As part of our Maternal Health Initiatives, Alaffia aims to educate women about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or excision. FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The procedure can result in severe bleeding, infections, life-threatening complications in childbirth, and increased risk of newborn deaths. (World Health Organization) Abidé Awesso, our Maternal Health & FGM Eradication Coordinator in the Bassar region of Togo, has been working with Alaffia since 2012. Hodalo Katakouna was one of Abidé’s first patients and one of the first women to be supported as part of our Maternal Health and FGM Eradication project. Following, Abidé recounts Hodalo’s story: “I had just started in my position with Alaffia’s Maternal Health Project, and was on one of my very first village field visits. I was headed to the health clinic in Tchatchaminadé, a small village along the rocky road from Bassar to Bafilo through the Chain du Togo mountain range. I was going to Tchatchaminadé for a meeting with village officials and maternal health participants on the adverse consequences of female genital mutilation. While driving my motorcycle along the one lane path to the village, I saw a pregnant woman sitting on a rock writhing in pain. I stopped to see what was wrong. She explained since the beginning of her pregnancy, she had not been feeling well. She had not been to see a doctor because she couldn’t afford it, but seeing how her health was declining more and more each day, she decided that morning to go to the clinic in the nearby village. Sadly, she didn’t even have someone to come with her, and after walking 5 miles, was too tired and ill to continue her journey. I decided to bring her with me on my motorcycle even though it would make me late to my meeting. We traveled to the Tchatchaminadé clinic together where she received medical attention and was able to rest. After she rested and was feeling more comfortable, with the permission of the clinic’s doctor, I examined her myself (I am a trained midwife). During my examination, I noted that Hodalo had undergone female genital mutilation as a child, and had a serious chronic pelvic infection as a result. Her infection was so advanced that it made me concerned for her pregnancy and even her life. The infection, resulting pain, and physical stress were the source of her sickness. Together, the clinic’s nurse practitioner and I decided to refer her to the Regional Hospital of Bassar where she would receive better care. Hodalo’s infection was so serious she required intravenous antibiotics. Because of this, and that we were worried for the health of the baby, she remained hospitalized for two weeks. All medical expenses were covered by Alaffia for the entire stay. During her stay at the hospital, Hodalo received more information about Alaffia’s program which she had benefited from. She accepted the offer to join the program, and began taking part in the meetings with Alaffia and other women who were participating. All Alaffia maternal health participants meet regularly to discuss hygiene, nutrition, and how to end FGM practices in their communities. Three months after Hodalo’s hospitalization, she gave birth to a little girl. Thankfully, she had a complication-free birth, and I was able to deliver her child easily and safely. Afterwards, she presented the child to me as a sign of gratitude and said, “This child is ours now because without the help of Alaffia, neither myself nor this child would have survived. I will call her Alaffia.”
The future of African communities depends on the education and empowerment of young people. If our youth are helped with the dilemmas they face, such as harsh poverty and lack of infrastructure, they will be empowered to lead their communities in the future. Since we founded our shea butter cooperative in 2003, we have provided school uniforms, books, and writing supplies to children in our Togolese communities to offset the financial burden these items have on poor families. We also donate desks and install new roofs on schools to make learning a more enjoyable experience. Since 2011, Alaffia product sales have funded the construction of 10 schools throughout Togo and provided school supplies to 32,842 recipients. We also partner with retail stores to collect school supplies â€“ if you would like to help collect pens and pencils for this project, please contact our office at 1-800-664-8005. In rural areas of Togo, students walk up to 10 miles a day to attend school. There are no buses, and families cannot afford private transportation. As a result, school becomes very time consuming, and most students decide to quit school in order to fulfill their family obligations. In rural areas, less than 10% of high school-aged girls and only 16% of boys attend school (UNICEF). In 2004, Alaffia began collecting and sending used bicycles to Togolese students to encourage them to stay in and complete school. Now, with over 7,482 bicycles sent and distributed, we are seeing a real impact on exam scores and retention in rural schools. Over 90% of Bicycles For Education recipients graduate secondary school. We collect used bicycles in and around our communities in Washington and Oregon, with the help of our retailers, volunteers, and Alaffia staff. All costs of this project - from collecting, repairing, and shipping bicycles, to customs duties, distribution costs, ongoing maintenance and follow-up - are paid for through the sales of Alaffia products. This project brings our communities in the US and Togo together. Bicycles that would otherwise be destined for the landfill are encouraging students in Togo to stay in school so they can lead our communities out of poverty. To find out how you can be involved, visit www.alaffia.com or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaboli Kindergarten funded & constructed through our Good Soap initiative
7,482 Bikes Donated + 32,842 School Supply Recipients 2,261 School Benches Built + 10 Schools Constructed
PR OJ ECT
Deforestation and climate change have had a devastating impact on West African farming communities. Alaffia product sales have funded the planting of 57,575 trees by Togolese farmers to help mitigate erosion and improve food security for their families. We also conduct trainings to discourage the cutting of shea trees for firewood and charcoal to preserve this important indigenous resource for future generations. Through our Alternative Fuels Project, we investigate sustainable fuel alternatives, such as bio-gas and bio-oils, to reduce the demand for wood and charcoal.
EYEGLASSES PROJECT In Togo, it is extremely difficult for visually impaired people to obtain eyeglasses. An eye exam costs as much as one monthâ€™s wage and a pair of eyeglasses can cost up to four months of wages. Alaffia collects used eyeglasses at retailer locations throughout the US and employs an optometrist in Togo to correctly fit and distribute the glasses. A pair of eyeglasses is life-changing for a child struggling in school, the elderly with failing vision, and adults who have never been able to see clearly. To date, Alaffia has collected and distributed over 24,927 pairs of glasses.
57,575 Trees Planted & 24,927 Eyeglasses Donated Reforestation Participant - NigboudĂŠ, Togo 2009
OUR COLLECTIONS Defining beauty goes beyond the aesthetic. It includes the relationship between the health of our bodies, the environment, and our global community. Alaffia attains this balance through clean, nutrient-rich hair, face, and body care made with sustainably-sourced, wildcrafted ingredients from our women’s cooperatives. Two principal ingredients, handcrafted shea butter and coconut oil, form a nutrient-rich base while select, active botanicals provide targeted-treatment, from daily moisturizing to supporting a clear complexion. The health of our bodies, the environment, and the global community—that is our commitment.
The AUTHENTIC collection is likened to the centuries-old home remedies of Togolese mamans. Distinguished by our All-In-One African Black Soap and Africa’s Secret Multipurpose Skin Cream, the collection is versatile, therapeutic, and time-tested.
The ALAFFIA premium line is composed of targeted treatment-specific formulas beginning with a base of authentic shea butter and coconut oil. Active botanicals, such as powerful neem, balancing turmeric, and harmonizing melon, address the needs of your unique skin and hair type.
EVERYDAY SHEA—truly the bread-and-butter of West Africa. Shea butter is deeply moisturizing and nutrient-rich for all ages and skin types, lending itself to practical formulas for quotidian use.
EVERYDAY COCONUT is formulated with authentic wet-milled, fermented coconut oil from West Africa. Nourishing and hydrating by nature, EDC face, hair, and body care is ideal for soothing irritated, inflamed skin and agitation.
The Metropolitan Collection Limited Edition
QUEEN ALAFFIA accessories are handmade, hand-dyed works of art created by Togolese women who fell victim to the sex trade. These traditional fabrics, known as pagne, bring vibrancy and a story to any space or look.
THE ALAFFIA FAMILY IN TOGO
Togo Artisan Center
(Previous shea butter cooperative location)
Alaffia Coconut Cooperative
(Alaffia Village - makes shea butter, coconut oil, all other oils, botanicals, soaps...)
(Collects grass for both Togolese & Ghanaian basket weavers)
Alaffia Grass Collecting Cooperative
Alaffia Basket Cooperative
Alaffia Shea Cooperative
Burkina Faso Côte Ghana d'Ivoire
Alaffia Basket Cooperative
Central African Republic
DR Congo Tanzania
6 cooperative comprised of 700 members Angola
4,950 contracted fair trade basket weavers (Ghana) 5,520 contracted fair trade shea nut collectors 942 contracted fair trade neem and baobab collectors 1,975 contracted fair trade grass collectors 125 team members in Olympia, WA, USA
• • • •
Capital: Lomé Population: 7.97 million Official language: French 12th poorest country*
*Source: Global Finance
The only things that are certain is that my life will forever be devoted to the empowerment of all disadvantaged people, and even if Alaffia was to disappear today from the face of the earth, the support and the opportunities that each and every one of you have given us over the years, has profoundly impacted my communities for generations to come.” –Olowo-n’djo Tchala
CONNECT WITH US WWW.ALAFFIA.COM email: email@example.com phone: 360-866-0080 or 1-800-664-8005
©2017 All Rights Reserved
Published on Feb 2, 2018