Thursday, June 6, 2013

Soapy Times in Sandema

The Sandema Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) hosted an exciting training session in soap production for 24 of its members. The trainer, Al-Haji, came all the way from Kumasi to spend a few days with the group and it was very intriguing seeing the whole process from start to finish.
Magadalene being helped by Azuma to mix the caustic soda 
It is actually a lot simpler than I thought, possibly because there are only 5 ingredients in it unlike the soap we normally purchase at stores which have at least 20 different long-named ingredients. The process from start to finish takes a couple days but the majority of that time is heating up the vast amount of oil for about 1 ½ days. It was really nice seeing the members being so eager to learn and practice. Ordinarily, soap making would be done individually or in small groups but that didn’t stop our group of 24 from working well as a team. They were all supportive of each other’s abilities and would take turns to practice under the guidance of Al-Haji.

Florence stirring in the colouring into the oil
The DPO previously had soap production training about 6 years ago but due to poor finance management they had to discontinue production almost immediately. Our work as volunteers, through the livelihoods programme we have created, is to ensure that this does not happen again. We organised a training workshop on business for the members in order to inform them of the importance of record keeping and how to make money. We had group discussions which consisted of them telling us where they would sell, who they will sell to, where they can sell in bulk, what they should avoid doing etc (for example, allowing customers to buy on credit. This is when the customer will take some goods but doesn’t pay at that time but promises to do so as soon as they can. It is common that the customer will not return with the money which leaves the seller at a loss). The aim is to make them feel responsible for their own business as opposed to relying on outsiders to give all the suggestions and leading the way. Roya and I are now in the process of composing a business proposal including all the recommendations and ideas presented to us by the members. We are going to ensure that this business will only grow and be a sustainable source of income for the individuals and their families as well as the DPO itself for a very long time.

They have since established the name for the business... They have called it
'New Era'
It is a very fitting name. It's a new start, a new business and new possibilities.

New Era employees with Maxwell and Festus from CBR

- Shazia

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