The Bustle of Bombita – Part 2
Enshrined in the incognito articles of association, is a commitment to donate 10% of profits to Charity. While this is a fundamental part of what we do, and why we do it, we also try to offer support in other ways. Where possible, we have offered knowledge and guidance to individuals or organisations who demonstrate ingenuity, or indeed a passion to make a positive impact in the world. One example of this, is a project led by the Enactus Edinburgh society, a student run social enterprise who design entrepreneurial projects to help those in need.
Last year, incognito made a financial donation to support one of the Enactus Edinburgh projects, and advised the volunteers on how to make natural insect repellents to help the team turn their ideas into a reality. The project developed into a fantastic example of young entrepreneurship with a sustainable impact. This post is the second of a two-part series which unravels the story of Bombita and the work of the Enactus Edinburgh project volunteers.
In the first of two entries, one of the volunteers named Laura writes of her experiences settling into the village of Bombita and the second family she gains there. She recounts the warmth and buzz of the Bombitan people and the unbreakable sense of community. You can read her first guest-blog here.
In the next blog of this two-part series she tells us how the program has helped to overcome the challenges of hygiene and insect-borne disease. Their solution; a small cooperative enterprise selling Taino soap, will help to improve the populations health as well as further improve the education of the young population. Read on to find out more!
One of the things that struck me most whilst in Bombita was the lack of opportunities for young people, the building of a school and a high school in the village meant that children were gaining a very high level of early education but when they reached university age many of them simply could not afford the bus into town to attend University. For those fortunate enough to make this trip every day, they found that it could take them up to ten years to graduate, as the local public university was completely oversubscribed and students could wait months for necessary classes to become available
Alongside this was a much greater concern. The outbreak of the Zika virus had left pregnant women in the village terrified. Yet the high cost of repellent prevented them from protecting themselves and their future children.
So we created a solution that could solve all 3 of these needs, Taino Soap. Taino soap is our innovative insect repellent soap, that not only reduces the chances of contracting mosquito borne disease by 50%, but is also 20% cheaper than local alternatives, making it affordable to the entire community. We trained our 10 entrepreneurs in everything they need to know to make Taino soap a sustainable success. From the co-operative business model to how to make, market and sell the soap. We even included the local school in the design of our logo, providing work experience for the trainee teachers, whilst increasing the community awareness of our project and the demand for our soap, enabling us to provide a greater income for our trainees and greater mosquito protection to the people of Bombita. It wasn’t long before our entrepreneurs were confident enough to contribute their own ideas and input into the project. Designing their own mould, and even securing a deal to sell the soap in one of the local shops.
The students produce fortnightly batches of solid soap, using neem oil which when used daily functions as mosquito repellent. The soap is sold in the local community, thus making good hygiene more accessible. The students use the income made from the sale of the soap to pay the tuition fees at the local private university which will allow them to graduate within just three to four years.
Our project partner is the head teacher in the local school and we worked one to one with him to ensure that the ten that we selected show promise and skill as his future employees. We have forecast that the income from the soap business will cut the time it takes our trainee teachers to graduate by half. Therefore, in just a few years time our project will have provided ten more qualified teachers to the local schools, reducing the average student teacher ratio drastically and therefore improving the standard of education to the 1200 children in the local area.
During their time in the Dominican Republic our members discovered that there was currently no soap in any of the local schools, meaning children were spending all day at school without washing their hands. To combat this we set up a meeting with the director of the local school district, who is responsible for the 28 schools in the district. As a short term solution the Director agreed to allow the entrepreneurs access to these schools to sell the soap to pupils and their parents – a potential 20,000 customers. As a long term solution we secured a verbal agreement with the Director to supply all 28 schools with a liquid soap, providing hand washing facilities whilst at school to 12,000 children for the first time.
I cannot thank incognito enough for their contribution to making Taino Soap a success, we truly could not have done it without their help, hopefully we can continue improving the lives of people in Bombita as Taino Soap continues to expand.