Sustainable. Natural. Healthy. Good. The 2012 Holiday Gift Giving Guide of West African Products!

Friday, November 16 2012

Leslie Shages, USAID Trade Hub Market Linkages Manager

Gift giving is an art – but it begins with knowing what’s available. Every year, Tradewinds asks Leslie Shages, who works with hundreds of West African exporters and buyers in world markets, to review the possibilities in light of the products available from West Africa. Her guide this year is truly a work of art!

Trying to find the perfect combination of fun, unique gifts to put you on the map of miracle shoppers this holiday season? Look no further. This year’s gift giving guide is full of healthy, natural, and sustainable products from West Africa – the stylish spot for buyer’s karma.

Delicious, Nutritious, and Gift-worthy Foods

Le Marais chocolates

Le Marais ChocolatesLe Marais Chocolat is for chocolate connoisseurs that care about incredible taste, organic ingredients, fair trade practices, the environment and giving back - all in one little truffle! Founder, Leslie Berliant has created something truly unique and divine with the launch of the Le Petit Prince truffle made with sweet, citrusy, and antioxidant-filled baobab fruit.

So go ahead, indulge!

Available online here.



You have not tasted juices as rich and authentic as these before. At Moriba, fresh fruit falls straight from the tree and into the bottle. With a beautifully wrapped array of jams, spreads, nuts and other treats from around the region, a selection of their products makes an ideal gift basket.

Buy it here.

Atacora Essential

Atacora EssentialBaobab Fruit - It doesn’t get any healthier than this – with 4 times the antioxidants of pomegranates, 6 times the vitamin C of oranges, and 40% of your fiber needs in one serving, baobab is prepared to blow acai out of the water as the new superfruit.  Atacora Essential offers an added feel good flavor by offering fairly traded baobab.  Their 100% fruit powder is easy to throw in smoothies, granola, or desserts for a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle.  Atacora also offers natural oils – great for making your own cosmetics.

Buy it here and at select store locations found on their website.

Cosmetics and Body Care

Shea Radiance

Shea Radiance

Recently referred to by one of its customers as “dream cream” has made its way into the mainstream - recently been picked up by Target it is now widely available at stores across the country.

Find a specific location or just shop online.

Vermont Soaps

Vermont Soaps

True to their heritage, Vermont Soaps offers a satisfying array of products using ultra moisturizing Africa-sourced organic shea butter, including 100% pure butter in a convenient pocket-sized tin.

Buy it here.

Handcrafts and Home Décor

Swahili Imports

Swahili ImportsSwahili ImportsSwahili Imports

Super-cute bags, hampers, baskets are among the wide array of great gifts offered by Swahili Imports. Visit their site and you are sure to find something unique for everyone in the family.

Where to buy:

Zigani Leather Handbags (Burkina Faso): The Village Experience (Indiana) & Swahili Modern online.

Charming Baskets (Senegal): Land of Nod stores nationwide and online

Senegalese Leather Hamper, featured in July 2012 ELLE Decor: Swahili Modern online

Proud Mary

Proud Mary

Harper Poe works with artisans in Mali to create "ethnic-modern" home and personal accessories. The company is committed to creating long-lasting, sustainable relationships with their suppliers. Visit Proud Mary online!

The Sankofa Center

The Sankofa CenterSankofaThe Sankofa CenterSankofa’s designs have been featured in vogue – bright colors and charismatic designs characterize these pieces.  But the bags go beyond style – they have a mission to benefit HIV/AIDS charity.

Buy it here.


BamboulaBamboulaFrom beaded chandeliers to woven baskets, you will find a full array of unique, decorative, and useful gift items from Bamboula.

Buy it here.

Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand VillagesTen Thousand Villages

Sort through a striking collection of paintings, sculptures, ornaments and other decorative art pieces from across the region at Ten Thousand Villages.

Global Mamas

Global Mamas

Global MamasGlobal Mamas

Add a dash of color to the cold, gray season with fun accents and stylish outfits for women, children and babies from the women owned and operated fair-trade cooperative - Global Mamas. These items have been featured at Smithsonian and a range of boutique shops across the country. All products are hand-made with love and a story – each label tells you which lady made the item and describes the mission and biography of the company.

Buy it here




Jamtown’s award-winning drums with African symbols make perfect gifts for all the musicians in the family.

Buy it here.

Plus – don’t forget to check out the African grocery stores in your neighborhood and try some of the unique grains, sauces, spices, and fruits that help transport you to the bounty, excitement, and color of West Africa.


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