Biodiesel couch-surfing tour to help empower West African women

By Alaffia | August 19, 2013

Alaffia, a fair-trade body care company based in Olympia Wash., is celebrating its 10 year anniversary by sending CEO Olowo-n'djo Tchala on a two month, 8,780 mile, couch-surfing tour across the U.S. in a biodiesel van. The money saved on hotel rooms is being donated to Alaffia’s women’s maternal health care program in Togo, West Africa.

Alaffia began as a pledge 10 years ago; a pledge to promote gender equality by empowering women and bringing recognition to the indigenous knowledge they possess. Alaffia's first co-op was made up of 50 women from 20 different ethnic groups, and has since grown to well over 500 women representing 70 percent of the 42 known ethnic groups in Togo. These co-ops are member-owned and exclusively employ women who receive a steady income and are empowered by valuing their traditional knowledge. As stated by Alaffia co-founder Rose Hyde, “In all of the other countries [in Africa] I've been in, I've never seen anything that compares to it. I've never seen a place where women go to work and it's theirs.”

As Alaffia grows, so does the number of women empowered, and communities uplifted, through community projects in Togo. These include the maternal health program, which provides post- and prenatal care for 1,000 women each year; planting 10,000 trees each year through their reforestation project; and empowering thousands of students with transportation through bicycles for education.

During September and October, Tchala will personally travel the U.S. thanking stores and consumers for their support.

“The reason our cooperatives continue to exist is the opportunities each and every one of you have given to Alaffia,” he said. “My objective is to personally visit with you as an extension of my gratitude.”

You can help support the empowerment of women and meet Alaffia co-founder Olowo-n'djo Tchala, at a natural products store near you.

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