March 21, 2018

Growing the good

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The world’s largest retailer now carries Alaffia, a line of fair-trade skin and body care products made from ingredients sourced from one of the world’s poorest countries.

This week, the Tumwater-based Alaffia announced its largest distribution deal to date with Walmart.

Alaffia was started in a garage in 2003 by Olowo-n'djo Tchala and his wife Rose Hyde, who had a big mission: To alleviate poverty and promote gender equality in West Africa, Tchala’s home country, and here at home.

Today, Alaffia employs 145 at its 100,000 square-foot headquarters and more than 14,000 directly and indirectly in West Africa

The partnership means Alaffia will line the shelves of 3,600 Walmart stores nationwide, creating 60 new jobs at the Tumwater facility and supporting thousands more women in West Africa through jobs and the company’s empowerment projects.

“Rose and I founded Alaffia to alleviate poverty and empower women and families in Africa and the U.S.,” said Tchala in a press release. “This partnership with Walmart puts more of our fair-trade products in the homes of U.S. consumers. That means even more women and children will have access to education, medical care and the ability to be self-sufficient by working in Alaffia enterprises.”

The Walmart partnership is also a great match for today’s values-driven consumers.

“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president, U.S. manufacturing, Walmart. “We are focused on buying great quality products that create jobs in communities across the U.S. It makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company.”

“Having these socially-responsible products in Walmart stores will help bring greater awareness to fair trade and women’s empowerment issues, and we think that’s great for everyone,” said Hyde.

Acting Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Donald Yamamoto, originally from Seattle, was in town for the announcement and to take part in a tour of Alaffia’s headquarters to learn more about the company and what its owners are doing to promote trade and create jobs.

Alaffia was one of three companies featured in AWB’s Grow Here campaign last year. The multi-media ad campaign discussed the importance of free enterprise to growing economic opportunity in Washington state and around the world.

The ad featuring Alaffia shared the compelling story of Olowo-n'djo and Rose, from their 1996 meeting during her time in the Peace Corps to the expansion of their company and what it means for the communities they serve. The Alaffia story was also featured in the most recent edition of Washington Business magazine.

Also present for the tour and announcement were Deborah Herron, director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart; AWB President Kris Johnson; Phil Gardner, district director for U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-10; Olympia state Reps. Laurie Dolan and Beth Doglio and Sen. Sam Hunt; and local officials, including the Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet, city council members and the heads of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council.