The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has announced a co-investment partnership with Togo shea company Agbanga Karite Alaffia SARL to secure $299,000 worth of shea kernels and other raw materials for the company’s 2021 production of shea butter products sold in the United States and other markets. With the co-investment made possible by Próspera África, the upfront purchase of shea kernels will curtail disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in turn, support the company’s commitment to employing women and youth.
“This partnership with the Trade Hub is a major reinforcement of Alaffia’s economic empowerment in Togo, and it facilitates our initiatives for sustainable development, job creation for women and youth, and improved private sector competitiveness,” says Olowo-n’djo Tchala, founder of Alaffia.
For the past 17 years, Alaffia has worked in rural communities in Togo’s central and savanna regions, providing jobs and skills development in shea kernel processing to women and youth. Yet the pandemic has threatened the business operations of this certified fair-trade shea butter cooperative. Its Alaffia Togo business normally processes 40 to 70 metric tons of shea kernels monthly to supply Alaffia USA with the shea needed for manufacturing products. However, purchasing the kernels needed was delayed for months due to Togo’s COVID-19 safety measures. The Trade Hub funding will assist Alaffia to rapidly secure the additional shea kernels needed to fulfill its 2021 forecasted demand, as well as offset the increased costs it continues to incur as a result of health and safety measures put in place.
The funding to purchase the shea kernels will help preserve the jobs of 303 individuals working for Alaffia Togo, and lead to the addition of 20 new shea processing positions for women and youth. Just as important, it will provide income for more than 6,300 women shea kernel collectors at a time when incomes from local market activities are increasingly insecure.
“The Trade Hub is pleased to assist Alaffia in creating jobs, empowering women, reducing operating costs, and improving sustainability of their activities. We see great potential in this collaboration,” says Michael Clements, the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party.
This co-investment partnership also has the potential to increase trade flow between Togo and the United States. Through the Trade Hub-funded shea kernel purchase alone, $2 million worth of shea butter and soaps as raw materials will be exported to the United States by February 2022.
About West Africa Trade & Investment Hub: The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) is a USAID-funded initiative that catalyzes economic growth through co-investing with the private sector to generate new investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa.
About USAID: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About Prosper Africa: Prosper Africa is the U.S. Government initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
About Alaffia: Agbanga Karite Alaffia SARL (Alaffia Togo) is a certified fair-trade shea butter cooperative dedicated to providing handcrafted ingredients for natural body care. Alaffia body and hair care products containing these unrefined, natural ingredients are manufactured by hand in the United States in Olympia, Washington. As part of its Fair-Trade philosophy, Alaffia returns 15% of certified fair-trade purchases to supplier communities in West Africa for community enhancement projects.