Tag Archives: esperanza

Empower Women. End Poverty.

(Article written by guest contributor Amy Wynn)

Entrepreneur Magazine recently published an article highlighting the ONE campaign, urging legislators to empower women by promoting gender equality through their work.

“Girls and women living in extreme poverty – those often hit hardest by the injustice of gender inequality – have been left out of the conversation,” the letter says, asking for data, funding and policy changes to support its cause.

Signed by heavy hitting advocates and activists like Sheryl Sandberg, Amy Poehler, Condoleezza Rice, and Melinda Gates, the open letter concluded in a bold statement that read, “Poverty is sexist.”

Women at Risk

Worldwide, women are far and away the most at risk for facing extreme poverty, preventable disease, and other limiting circumstances. As these limiting circumstances increase, it becomes more challenging for women to get access to many basic resources that could help reduce or eliminate the problems.

Soap Hope was founded with a mission focused on lifting women to a place where they have power to improve their own lives, their families’ lives, and the lives of members of their communities.

Why Soap Hope Supports Women

As we’ve discussed on past blogs, women are the backbone of society, key players in the success of communities large and small.

  • Women consistently invest more of their money back into their families and communities than men.
  • The participation of women in an economy is a proven factor in the stability of a country, and has been linked to lower levels of corruption within government.
  • When a woman is struggling simply to eat, to feed, and to access care for her family, there is little room for her to step into a position of active participation within her community.  Women facing extreme poverty are inherently excluded from participating in leadership and decision making, the very fields from which we all benefit the most from their equality and inclusion.

In short, empowering women is good for everyone.

How Soap Hope Empowers Women

To us, empowering women means giving them a voice and an outstretched hand, not only as a way towards an education or starting a business, but also to empower the women as leaders and decision makers in their communities and around the world.

Through our mission at Soap Hope, women are being brought to the table to participate in and lead these larger conversations. By providing women with resources to lift themselves up, we are able to help loosen the grip of poverty on their lives and free them to contribute to their own communities and society at large.

Every dollar of profit generated from Soap Hope purchases – 100% of it – goes out into the world for one year through programs that provide capital and business training to women so they can start, build and grow their own businesses.

From microloans through Milaap in India, to Esperanza in the Dominican Republic, we join forces with our mission partners to plant the seeds of change for women worldwide.

Don’t Let Poverty Persist

Poverty is a global problem. And as the article from Entrepreneur Magazine reminds us, the key to ending poverty is empowering women.

Women around the world, including in your own communities, are struggling to survive, to provide for their children and families, and find themselves severely limited by their circumstances.

We – you, us, and our mission partners – are doing good by maximizing our collective ability to raise women from poverty. Through your purchase of natural, healthy products at Soap Hope, we are able to partner with organizations around the world to make real, tangible changes in the lives of women.

Conquering poverty takes all of us, working together.

#LikeAWoman

You’ve probably seen the “#LikeAGirl” video that debuted not long ago. If you haven’t, take a minute to watch it – it’s inspiring and eye-opening.

At Soap Hope we often think about how perceptions of women either empower or limit people. Why do we invest in women? Here are some amazing facts about the behavior of women that inspire us:

  • Women consistently reinvest a much larger percentage of earnings into their own families and communities than men do. This behavior creates opportunity and advancement for more people.
  • The more economic and political participation of women there is in a country, the more stable that country is likely to be.
  • The more women there are in the legislature of a country, the lower the level of corruption is likely to be.
  • Women are far more likely than men to repay a business loan.

In short: it’s smart to invest in women.

Soap Hope was founded (by two men, incidentally) on the belief that solving humanity’s greatest problems will require balanced participation by women in all aspects of society, especially decision-making and leadership. We decided to focus on women at the “bottom of the pyramid” – those who are most disadvantaged.

We choose to make our difference by empowering those women through entrepreneurship – and we’re serious about it. Every single dollar of profit that we earn goes to fund loan capital and education for women.

These women start and grow their businesses, changing the dynamic of their local societies by bringing success, hope and opportunity to them. We believe that this, too, can and will become a pervasive worldwide phenomenon.

Who wouldn’t want to invest in a person who saves like a woman, invests like a woman, plans like a woman, strengthens the community like a woman, and transforms the world like a woman? I know I would – how about you?

– Salah Boukadoum, Co-Founder, Soap Hope

If you want to participate, it’s easy: shop at Soap Hope, share the story with others in e-mail and social media, and please write us – we want to hear from you.

Try

Here’s a dilemma for you.

Every week at Soap Hope, we get together to talk about what to write on this blog and what special offers to send to the many customers who get our weekly email.

The team wanted to do a makeup promo, since we’re big fans of the Pacifica line – the products and packaging are just gorgeous, and our customers love the quality.

Normally that would mean I would pull out the research I did on natural makeup when we decided to carry it and write up some important points about natural makeup, what to look for and how to use it.

But this week I also saw a very touching music video called “Try” by Colbie Caillat. I really wanted to share this song with you, because it made a big impact on me.

But I was conflicted about sending out a promo about makeup, and also sending you this song. You’ll see why when you watch it. (I’ve put it at the end of the blog for you.)

I talked with my friend Kathy and told her about my concerns. “Is it insensitive to promote makeup in the same week as you share a song like this?”

Kathy asked me, “Well Salah, why do you sell makeup?”

It’s not a short answer, but it’s a simple one. I sell makeup because I wanted to create a company that solves big human problems by selling everyday things to my community. I wanted the company to use all of its profits to empower women to escape poverty. And I only wanted to sell things that were healthy and high quality, with the highest integrity I can bring.

I started with something simple: soap bars. And customers – you – showed up to participate. And then you asked for more – for shampoo, for lotion, for new brands, and yes, for makeup.

In return, I asked Kathy why she wears makeup. “The same reason you cut your hair a certain way. It’s fun. It makes me feel good. I like the way it looks. And some days I don’t wear it.”

In the end, Kathy and I decided you would understand everything. That there’s nothing wrong with selling makeup for the right reasons. That it’s OK to share this video with you about how we don’t need to be wearing makeup – or doing anything else – for the wrong reasons. And that I shouldn’t have to worry too much about sharing things with you that moved me, and that I think might move you too.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments below.


(Can’t see the video? Click here for the original post and scroll to the bottom.)

The Story of Bienvenida

When Soap Hope first connected with Esperanza International, I took a trip to the Dominican Republic to visit the women they serve there.

One of the most memorable people I met was Bienvenida Nina. Bienvenida is an amazing woman and a successful entrepreneur. She started with nothing but vision and commitment. With the support of a few small loans and training, and through her own hard work and dedication over many years, Bienvenida now has a convenience store, a restaurant, and a home anyone would be proud of. Today she is launching her third business, an ice cream parlor.

I was moved to the core when Bienvenida walked with us past “homes” in the village near her businesses – she pointed out a small concrete room built on dirt, with a doorway but no door, and only half the roof covered by a sheet of corrugated tin. She said “I used to live here.” As we continued down the pathway and listened to her story, we came around a bend and saw a wonderful two-story house, colorfully painted, with a garden in front and an ornamental gate.  She pulled out a key, and we realized this was Bienvenida’s home.

“This is where I live now,” Bienvenida told us. She chose to build her new home in her community, demonstrating an example of hope to her neighbors.

I knew then that Soap Hope needed to empower as many women like Bienvenida as possible. That’s why when you place an order with us, we send every dollar of profit to women in places like the Dominican Republic for one year, interest free. The women start businesses and then return the funds to us a year later.  Each five dollars that you spend with us funds one day of a woman’s loan. That’s we say, “A bar of soap is a day of hope.”

Bienvenida took us to her restaurant, which is now famous for it’s fried chicken. Our friends at Esperanza told us we could share her “secret recipe” with you today. (For my vegetarian friends, it works just as well with tofu!)


Bienvenida Nina’s secret … shhh

The inspiring Bienvenida Nina
Bienvenida Nina inspires us at Soap Hope.

Soak chicken in vinegar
(Tenderizes)

All spices are to taste:
Jalapeno pepper
Celery salt
Crushed whole oregano
Garlic powder
Salt if desired

Coat in flour and fry
Enjoy!

Donated by Bienvenida Nina