Creating a promising life with soap suds

Just one week after learning how to make liquid soap through the Challenging Heights Livelihoods, Women’s Empowerment Programme, 23 year-old Victoria Abraham pooled together resources, created labels and began producing Western Premier Liquid Soap.

Victoria is in her second year as a student at the University of Education, Winneba. As she works through basic education coursework, she needed to find work that could pay for her studies. Challenging Heights gave her the skills to create her own.

In late March, Victoria joined nearly 40 other young people, ages 18-30, for a training session in how to make liquid soap, hosted by the Challenging Heights Women’s Empowerment Programme. Many of the attendees were students; some sold small things in the market and others were unemployed.

Victoria wasted no time in putting her new skill to use; she began making soap on her own in the evenings after classes.

Filling two different sized bottles with bright green liquid soap, Victoria says, the hue will be her trademark, “I like this colour!”

The soap can be used for hand washing, mopping or dish washing, and is sold at competitive prices. Victoria offers a bargain as she tries to build her name and credibility.

As Victoria pounds the pavement selling Western Premier to local shop owners to sell to customers, she enlists the help of another woman she met at the Livelihoods training. Julie had been unemployed, but now she sells Victoria’s wholesale product to local shops in other nearby towns. If not for Victoria’s venture, Julie would not have had product to sell. Victoria gives Julie the soap product to sell to vendors, and only after Julie makes a profit, does Julie pay Victoria back.

It’s this partnership that the Challenging Heights Livelihoods Programme encourages. In the coming weeks, Challenging Heights plans to give seed money to a cooperative of those who participated in the soap making training. With that, a small group of new entrepreneurs can work together to buy ingredients, make soap, sell soap, reap profits, and grow a true business.

Livelihoods Programme staff is speaking with local chop bars (restaurants) and establishments to garner interest in the soap made by the cooperative. Those shop owners will test the group’s soap, offer it to their customers, and decide if they want to buy more as time goes on. Challenging Heights staff hopes to create more cooperatives of soap makers to build lasting earning potential.

Victoria hopes to expand Western Premier. She needs it now to get herself through school, but once she graduates and has more capital of her own, she imagines creating a larger family business and wants to establish a lasting legacy for generations.