Entrepreneur and activist Olowo-n’djo Tchala was a child in Togo, West Africa, when he watched his mother earn pennies collecting nuts from shea trees to sell to wealthy shea nut buyers for expensive skin-care products coveted by consumers in the west. Tchala had to drop out of school in 6th grade because his mother no longer could afford to send him.
Decades later, Tchala met a young Peace Corps volunteer from Washington state named Prairie Rose Hyde. The two would later marry and risk everything they had to form the Alaffia cooperative. Their idea was to use the resources West African women already had—the skills, knowledge and traditions of African craft work and natural shea butter production—to empower women, preserve indigenous culture, and produce a high quality product.
On a Fair Trade model, Alaffia artisans and producers provide beautiful hand woven baskets, a wide range of popular beauty products, and more.
Funded by the sales of Alaffia products, the cooperative reinvests profits in its communities. The goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality:
An easy way to celebrate Co-op Month is to look for Alaffia displays and products in our stores and to learn more online. Check out our friends at Alaffia here!