We carry many lovely body care products – many that are good for your skin and the earth. Then there is Alaffia. In the words of Lauren, our Wellness manager, there is no question in my mind that of all the lines we carry, Alaffia is the company that gives the most back in meaningful, real outreach.”
The company’s founder, Olowo-n’djo, grew up in Togo where his mother was a farmer. He quit school in the 6th grade to help his mother on the farm. But in 1996, he met my wife Rose Hyde, who is from a farming community in rural Washington State. Rose was in Kaboli as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the agenda of educating farmers on sustainable farming techniques. Two years after meeting Rose, he joined her in the United States and began learning English immediately. In 2004, Olowo-n’djo earned a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Studies, with emphasis on Global Economic Systems from the University of California, Davis. Prior to that, in 2003, he returned to Togo to organize women to handcraft shea butter.
Olowo-n’djo and Rose have pledged their lives to do what they can to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa – helping their communities in central Togo sustain themselves through the fair trade of their indigenous resource – shea butter.
Their empowerment programs in Togo include:
- the bike project - distributes bicycles in 40 villages near the shea butter cooperative, which provide transportation to and from school
- the school project - donates school supplies and bench seats to schools
- the reforestation project - plants trees & supplements women farmers’ incomes
- maternal health - helps provide prenatal care to reduce maternal death rates
- gender equality - honors women’s contributions by working towards gender equality in our communities. One way to do this is to place fair monetary value on the unique skills of African women, such as handcrafting shea butter, and compensate them with fair values for their products and knowledge.
It would be enough to want to buy Alaffia products simply to support them in the amazing work they are doing to better peoples’ lives. But the fact that their body and hair care products are high-quality and fair-trade make them even more compelling.
To learn more about Olowo-n’djo and Alaffia, visit their website www.alaffia.com
Photos courtesy of Alaffia