Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of wild Shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa - also known as Butyrospermum parkii in the cosmetic industry) scattered throughout the wooded savanna of West and Central Africa. Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa and is completely enmeshed within the history and culture of the West African savanna. Shea Butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra's Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of Shea Butter for cosmetic use. Funeral beds of kings were carved in the wood of old Shea Trees, and Shea Butter has always been a staple of African pharmacology.
Alaffia was founded to alleviate poverty and advance gender equality in West Africa through the fair trade of handcrafted shea butter. Our mission embodies three clear principles:
CREATE - We formulate and create our products based on indigenous beauty knowledge and unrefined, fair trade ingredients.
INFORM - Our products inform the public about interconnections between communities and how, together, we can alleviate poverty through fair trade and sustainable choices.
EMPOWER - Our fair trade shea butter cooperative and community projects encourage self empowerment and gender equality for women in our West African communities.
Now, more than ever before, it is important for all of us to make decisions that take into consideration the well-being of the generations to come. To us, sustainable means making choices and actions that improve current and future living conditions for our communities while maintaining the cultural and bio-diversities of our planet, including:
The motivation to commit to these principles comes from the hope that our actions will:
One of the main ways we strive for sustainability is by fostering direct relationships and removing the "middleman". These direct relationships reduce waste and costs, but also have another benefit. Each piece of the Alaffia sustainability cycle has a clear, unique and imperative role in helping us achieve our goals.
In Sokode, Togo, members of the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative handcraft shea butter, other indigenous oils and extracts using traditional, organic methods under fair trade guidelines. Our members gain pride and equality as well as a living wage.
In Lacey, Washington, we repackage our shea butter, formulate and produce our finished products under the same principles. Our products are our voice to educate individuals and other organizations about the importance of fair trade and sustainable living.
Our customers help spread our message, provide feedback and ideas, volunteer their time to help with our projects, as well as provide the funds with which we conduct our projects and support our cooperative members. We appreciate your support in reaching our goals.
10% of our sales are returned to West Africa to fund community enhancement projects. These projects are designed to help lift our communities out of poverty and become self-sustaining. Our projects focus on the future, emphasizing the environment, gender equality education and empowering communities.