Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet
  

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Ojoba Collective
Portland, OR

Congratulations to Fall 2014
People & Planet Award winner Ojoba Collective!

Who we are:
Ojoba Collective is a fair trade company based in Portland, Oregon. We work directly with women’s cooperatives in rural Ghana, West Africa to produce shea butter and other plant derived natural body care ingredients. We are proud members of the Fair Trade Federation.

We are committed to:

  • Empowering rural African women and their communities.
  • Creating natural, hand-crafted products that are environmentally and economically sustainable.
  • Offering natural, chemical-free alternatives to mainstream skin care products that support the health and wellbeing of our customers.

Bringing Opportunity to Isolated Communities
We work with villagers who live traditionally as subsistence farmers and have little access to electricity, running water, or many other amenities of the modern world.
When we started, most of the population lived in extreme poverty, on less than a dollar a day. By building production facilities and cooperatives in these villages, we have created economic opportunities for over 500 women and their families.

Beyond a Fair Wage - Overcoming Extreme Poverty

Fair trade wages are extremely important, but with over ten years of experience working in Ghana, we’ve learned it’s not enough to stop the vicious cycle of extreme poverty.  That’s why we support the women and their communities in a variety of ways. All co-op members receive the following benefits:

  • Free enrollment in national healthcare plan for members and their families
  • Free adult literacy classes
  • Access to their own micro-credit fund for income diversification
  • Workshops in healthcare, hygiene, home budgeting, organic farming, composting, permaculture, soap-making, etc.

Previously, at the end of the farming season, many adults would leave their villages in search of work. Now their communities are bustling year-round, families are kept intact, children are enrolled in school, and their traditional culture continues to thrive. In addition, with fair trade premiums, we have been able to finance anti-malarial mosquito netting, a community library, and large scale tree planting for the benefit of the entire community.

Empowering Women – Transforming Society
The success of our women’s cooperatives has transformed gender views in the villages. Women are more respected, domestic violence has been greatly reduced, and so have harmful cultural practices such as female circumcision and scarification.

On the Frontlines of Climate Change - Green is not an Option
We work with traditional farmers who live on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Climate change, deforestation and erosion are direct threats to their livelihood. Some of our Green Initiatives include:

  • Introducing simple solar and biofuel technologies to reduce firewood consumption
  • Community education on the dangers of farm chemicals and basic organic farming techniques
  • Sending six Co-op members to a Permaculture Design Course
  • Planting over 3000 tree seedlings including Shea, Moringa, and Acacia trees

Green America’s People and Planet Award
We are honored to be considered for this award. The $5,000 would help us continue to green our shea production and introduce more simple alternative technologies into the community. We have already decreased our firewood use by 50 percent, but our goal is 100 percent. We would use these funds to help us achieve this goal by purchasing rocket stoves and building more solar roasters.
Thanks for your consideration!

 

 

Anti Malaria
Co-op members receiving anti-malarial nets.

Making Together Library
Making the shea butter. Johan and Tracy with co-op members. Co-op member in the new community library.
Meeting School
Shea cooperative meeting. Co-op members' children all in school.
Roaster Literacy
Co-op members with solar roaster. Free adult literacy class.
Village