Soap is seen as a primary product and is one of the main products that economists consider when measuring inflation, says Cristina Margarida Rocha who developed a handmade soap as a tool to economically empower women in Mozambique. Not only that, she also educates them to be environmentally conscious and to promote the use of economically friendly and sustainable materials.
Vegetable oils as ingredient
Rocha formed Daisy Social outfit to teach women how to produce low cost handmade soap by re-using ingredients and materials sourced mainly from the environment. Rocha who regards herself as an ecopreneur, says the other objective of her social enterprise is to contribute towards promoting environmental awareness by using less polluting materials. She says they use vegetable oils as the main ingredient in producing the handmade soap.
“These oils are rich in fatty acids, giving the skin nourishment and hydration. Glycerine, an end product of the process, softens the skin, making the addition of any preservatives or synthetic detergents to the soap unnecessary,” explains Rocha. She says they also recycle used vegetable oil after it has been tested for quality control, adding this leads to the final product being sold to the public at a more affordable price.
Training more women
Women are also empowered by selling the soaps and using the proceeds to advance and fulfil their own personal development and dreams. The bulk of the revenue and profit is invested back into the project to help train more women. Once trained, the women serve as franchisees and ambassadors of Daisy. Currently 14 “Daisies” have been empowered to produce Daisy Handmade Soaps.
Involving the corporate
Rocha says she is glad her project resonates with the corporate community who wants to include social responsibility practices in their goals by sponsoring their training kits. She says they have established strategic partnerships with various companies to donate their by-products to them. The have also joined hands with retailers of the equipment needed to produce their handmade soaps at a fair price in order to support our Daisy-in-a-box project. Furthermore, she says they are also collaborating with associations and NGOs that represent vulnerable women.
Uplifting the vulnerable
Rocha is not only passionate about sustainable environment but she is also academically well-equipped and experienced. She has a degree in BSc in food engineering, a post-graduate degree in quality management and a MSc in innovation management. She says she feels fulfilled when she shares her knowledge with others particularly women. Rocha says it was while visiting Africa that she felt a strong urge to give back, and social innovation was the field through which she could meaningfully contribute to impoverished communities around her.
Rocha says she learned the soap making skills from her great grandmother who used to make soap from olive oil. “The 100% natural soap was enough to last her the whole year and provide the family with moisture, health and love,” she says. Rocha says she wants to grow the circle bigger so that she can impact the lives of more women. For instance, this year the project has empowered 14 women, next year the plan is to benefit 50 women; in the third year, the target is 100 women. “We want to reach vulnerable women, the unemployed, the deaf, albinos and refugees,” says Rocha.
Reducing carbon footprint
She says seeing women empowering one another gives her the ultimate satisfaction. She says knowing that they are contributing to reduce the carbon footprint, gives double satisfaction. “We get stronger with each hard life story of the women we meet during our journey and get inspired by the transformation they go through after being trained and receiving the Daisy-in-a-box kit,” concludes Rocha.