In episode 120 of the Disruptors for GOOD podcast I speak with Olowo-n’djo Tchala, Founder and CEO of Alaffia on cultivating beauty, equality, and empowerment in West Africa and around the globe through personal care products.
Olowo-n’djo Tchala, founder and CEO of Alaffia, was born and raised in the village of Kaboli, Togo. Growing up and working to support his family, he witnessed firsthand the injustices and inequalities many of the women in his village faced daily. After moving to the United States and going to University, he felt the responsibility to fight the injustices that existed in West Africa.
In 1996, Tchala met his partner Prairie Rose Hyde, who was invited to his village as an environmental volunteer in the Peace Corp. Inspired by a shared calling to do right by the world, Alaffia, a social enterprise, was born. With an understanding of the value of indigenous West African resources and sustainable business ideologies, the two launched Alaffia’s first shea butter collective in 2003 and in 2004 established the Alaffia headquarters in Olympia, Washington.
For the last nearly 20 years, Tchala’s green and fair trade organization has created sustainable programs in West Africa that have improved the lives of over 250,000 individuals. Proceeds from the sale of Alaffia’s beauty and personal care products are returned to communities in Africa, such as those in Togo and Ghana, to fund their multiple empowerment programs including Maternal Care, Reforestation, Regenerative Agriculture, Eyeglass, Bicycle and in 2021 Female Genital Mutilation Eradication.
Since inception, they have built 16 schools, planted over 99,000 trees, provided more than 10,000 bicycles and 30,000 eyeglasses, donated school supplies to more than 37,000 students, and funded over 6,500 births. How does it work? Women’s cooperatives in West Africa handcraft indigenous ingredients, such as unrefined shea butter and African black soap, using traditional African methods. Products are then finished at Alaffia’s U.S. headquarters in Olympia, Washington. Proceeds from the sale of their personal care products are returned to communities in Africa, such as those in Togo and Ghana, to fund their community programs.
Today, Alaffia is available in Whole Foods nationwide and continues to redefine the natural products industry through its values of Beauty, Equality and Empowerment, fair trade, and safe, efficacious hair, face and body care.
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