Olowo-n’djo Tchala (pronounced “Oh-loe-in-joe Cha-la”) was born and raised in the village of Kaboli in Togo where he shared an 8’ X 10’ room with his mother and seven siblings. No longer able to afford it, Olowo-n’djo dropped out of school after only making it to sixth grade. After leaving school, he supported his mom by working alongside her on their farm. In 1996, he met his future wife Prairie Rose Hyde when she was volunteering with the Peace Corp. The couple fell in love and shortly after moved to the U.S.
Upon arriving in America, Tchala took English as a second language and worked his way up to a college-level understanding. He then attended UC Davis and received a B.S. in Organizational Theory studies. His wife earned a graduate degree in International Agriculture Development and Ethnobotany at the same time. Their combined education would soon lead to a very successful business concept that would help alleviate poverty in West Africa.
Constantly surrounded by hardworking women with unique indigenous knowledge and skills, Olowo-n’djo knew he wanted to utilize Africa’s abundance of natural resources to create a sustainable economy and provide jobs for women in his home country. Creating a source of jobs and opportunities would be more sustainable and better for the country overall than just giving them a handout here and there. Cut to 2003 – Alaffia is born in the garage of the Tchala family home. Based on the common Togo greeting, Alaffia means state of peace, health, and well-being.
Alaffia is a social and fair-trade-certified hair and body product line. Every product is made from West African resources. Since Alaffia’s start, the company has set its sights on mobilizing African resources (both tangible and intangible). Over time, they’ve been able to hire thousands of employees who formulate and produce products made from unrefined African ingredients. All of their products are synthetic-free, non-genetically modified, vegan, and gluten-free. The Tchalas knew that, even though the country is considered one of the poorest places on the planet, Africa is actually rich with resources and cultures. Alaffia has now given many West Africans the chance to take advantage of their skills and the country’s natural resources.
Tchala and Hyde use Alaffia’s profits to give back to communities in West Africa. They spearhead a large variety of empowerment projects that support education, maternal health, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) eradications, eyeglasses, transportation, and reforestation. To learn more about their empowerment initiatives and to see how you can give back, click here.
Olowo-n’djo and Prairie Rose are modern day heroes; they’ve done more good with their business over the years than many can do in a lifetime. Today, Alaffia is the largest private employer in Togo and sells its products nationwide. The Alaffia CEOs continue to encourage companies to use their success to help build and support underserved communities. The married couple also urges others to help Africa by participating in free-trade practices. Olowo-n’djo, along with his wife and kids, will forever promote the idea that everyone deserves to feel beautiful, empowered, and equal.