Remarks by Ambassador David Gilmour
Inauguration of the Alaffia Building in Baguida
October 10, 2017
Madame the Minister of Grassroots Development
Monsieur the Secretary General of the Cabinet
Mister Tchala, the founder of Alaffia
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my great pleasure to be with you today for the inauguration of Alaffia’s new building. Today represents a great accomplishment for Alaffia, and I thank you all for being part of it.
I talk a lot about Alaffia. Madame Dogbe can confirm this – I even cajoled her to go up to Sokode to visit the Alaffia facility there a few months ago! Obviously, as the U.S. Ambassador I feel it is my duty to be an advocate for one of the biggest American companies in Togo. But more than that, I am proud to be affiliated with Alaffia because I admire the values that it stands for: entrepreneurship, imagination, perseverance, and social responsibility.
Alaffia started as the dream of a young American woman from rural Washington and a young man born and raised in rural Togo with a sixth grade education, to start a small business that would benefit local people. Now that dream, after years of hard work, has become a reality. Alaffia employs thousands of people in Togo – mostly women – and pays them a wage that equals more than four times the average family income in Togo. In addition, it employs over 100 workers at its factory in Washington State in the U.S.
This to me is a great example of the power of free markets to alleviate poverty and boost economic growth. People ask me sometimes what benefits increased investment and trade can have for ordinary people in Togo, and I think the Alaffia model is the perfect answer to that question.
Alaffia also has a mission to promote the arts in Togo, and as part of that mission they have dedicated the top floor of this new building to be a cultural center. I am proud today to announce that as proof of the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to this mission, I have signed the paperwork to be an official partner of Alaffia on its new Cultural Center.
For so many reasons, today is truly a milestone for Alaffia. I am honored to share in this special moment. I commend Olowo-n’djo, Rose, and all the staff and employees of Alaffia for their incredible success, and I look forward to continued collaboration with Alaffia in the years ahead to create prosperity and sustainable development in the U.S. and in Togo
would go on to build one of the most successful fair trade cosmetics companies in the natural products industry.