Olowo-n’djo Tchala, the founder and CEO of Tumwater-based Alaffia, has been named the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year “Mold Breaker” in the Pacific Northwest region.
Alaffia makes body care and beauty products using traditional African materials, sustainable harvesting, and fair-trade practices.
“We are excited to see Alaffia’s social enterprise model recognized in this prestigious awards program,” Tchala said in a statement prior to the awards ceremony on June 15. “Private enterprise, guided by fair trade principles, is the key to alleviating poverty in my native country of Togo, throughout West Africa, and here in the U.S. We are grateful to EY for shining a light on companies that are striving to improve the human condition through innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Alaffia employs and contracts over 14,000 people, mostly women, in West Africa to collect and create raw product ingredients. Those ingredients are then shipped to Alaffia’s Tumwater headquarters to be refined, packaged, and distributed throughout the U.S. and other countries. The Tumwater plant currently employs 145 people.
The company’s sustainability initiatives have resulted in a variety of donations and positive social impacts, including nearly 60,000 trees planted, 12 schools constructed, and 4,832 babies safely delivered in West Africa.
EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards program was founded in 1986. Since then, the organization has expanded to recognize inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs from more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries.