Manta and Diver


Have you seen this striking video of divers freeing a giant manta from fishing line? It’s amazing and beautiful. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

Can’t see the video? Click here for YouTube.

You probably know that Soap Hope was founded to put the Good Returns model into action. Under this special business model we send 100% of our profits to women in the U.S. and around the world to enable them to escape poverty. These women start their own personal enterprises and are responsible for their own success.

During the time I’ve been working on Good Returns, I’ve heard a lot of opinions about the reasons that people find themselves in poverty and what should be done about it. I have received hundreds of e-mails and letters from people who are passionate about the fact that every dollar of profit from every Soap Hope purchase goes to empower women.

But I’ve also received letters that say that people in poverty should be left to figure it out for themselves. I’ve been told that if a person is poor, it is because she is irresponsible or lazy. I’ve been told that providing loan capital to the extreme poor just enables more bad choices. (I was also told by one cranky customer that “those women should get off their butts and work.” She didn’t understand that we don’t give money away – we lend it interest-free to entrepreneurial, responsible women who work harder than most people she will ever encounter.)

The video of the manta reminded me of both the women we help and the commentary of naysayers.

The manta became entangled in fishing lines and couldn’t free herself. Who knows, maybe she made a poor choice that got her in that situation. (We all make poor choices from time to time.)

There was no way that the manta could free herself from that entanglement without help. Those fishing lines would never have disintegrated, never have come loose on their own – like some of the women I have met in Central America, who spend hours each day just hauling water, seemingly with no chance to change their situation. (How much could I accomplish if I had to spend 4 hours each day just to obtain water for my family?)

The diver had a tool – a knife – that could help free the manta from that bondage. They both took a risk and he used the knife to help her. In that moment, there was great respect for the manta. The diver didn’t create an entitlement by helping her. (If my company can send small amounts of capital to a woman to help her start a personal enterprise, it could free her to send her children to school.)

In fact, the diver got one of the most memorable moments of his life from the process of helping free that manta. The diver and the manta both had a life changing moment together. Each one received a great gift.

That’s how we feel at Soap Hope. The women to whom we provide capital are like the manta – with amazing stories of grace and times of trouble, willing to do something together with us that can change their lives and ours too. They are entangled in the challenges of poverty. They are willing to take a risk that can free them, and so are we.

If you like the Good Returns business model, help it grow: shop at Soap Hope for your home and body products and gifts, and tell a friend about us. One bar of soap funds one day of business for a woman, so I say “A bar of soap is a day of hope.” 

– Salah

(Photo Credit: Steve Dunleavy, Lake Tahoe, NV)

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