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August 15, 2017

Alaffia takes 'Grow Here' message to international stage at trade conference

By: Brian Mittge   Comments: 0
Olowo-n’djo Tchala, CEO and co-founder of Tumwater-based Alaffia, speaks last week at the 2017 African Growth and Opportunity Act forum held in his home country of Togo.

AWB member Olowo-n’djo Tchala returned to his home country of Togo last week to talk about how his Tumwater-based business, Alaffia, is doing good for its workers and their communities. Tchala and his wife, Alaffia co-founder Prairie Rose Hyde, were among the panelists at the 2017 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference that was held this year in Lomé, Togo.

Alaffia, which was featured in AWB's Grow Here campaign this year, employs 120 people in Tumwater, 750 people in west Africa, and pays family-sustaining prices to a network of more than 11,000 contractors in Africa who supply shea nuts, grass and baskets. Alaffia's Tumwater factory turns those raw materials into skin care products that are popular in the United States. Profits from the company go back to Africa to support educational and social development programs in Togo and beyond.

“Alaffia was founded on the bedrock belief that private enterprise alleviates poverty,” said Tchala, Alaffia’s CEO, as quoted in a Puget Sound Business Journal blog post. “Alaffia’s embrace of fair trade principles has created employment opportunities and supported self-sufficiency — even prosperity — for villagers in Africa, and Americans in Washington state.”

Talking trade in Togo
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Togo, David Gilmour, center, talk with Alaffia co-founder and CEO Olowo-n’djo Tchala last week during a trade forum in the west African country of Togo.
The U.S. Ambassador to Togo, David Gilmour, cites Alaffia as an example of the benefits of trade for African development.

"I believe there are many companies in Togo that are ready to follow in Alaffia's footsteps," Gilmour said. (Original French version, or this Google translation to English). "The United States is the largest consumer market in the world and Togolese entrepreneurs and business owners can benefit to an extraordinary degree, thanks to increased trade with the United States."

The AGOA forum is held every year as part of a law enacted in 2000 that gives 39 African nations duty-free access to the U.S. market for 6,500 products if they prove they are improving human rights, the rule of law and worker protections. The Independent has more about the law.

The theme for this year's AGOA conference was "The United States and Africa: Partnering for Prosperity through Trade." The forum drew more than a thousand participants from 38 sub-Saharan African countries. It ended on Thursday. Global Trade Magazine has more on the event.

The Togolese Republic newspaper covered the event (original story in French is here, or an automated Google translation is here.)

For more on AWB's Grow Here campaign and Alaffia, visit, or watch this short documentary video about Alaffia's war to alleviate poverty: