Support women in the Congo rainforest with a new soap making project!
Many rainforest residents live in dire poverty, turning to hunting and unsustainable agricultural practices for livelihood. Sustainable development is one of the keys to ensuring the survival of bonobos and their Congo rainforest home. Empowering women with economic opportunities is especially important.
This summer, actor and activist Ashley Judd met with BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe and community leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We were honored to share ideas with this incredible leader of the female empowerment movement #timesup and UN Goodwill Ambassador, and now we’re ready to kick off an exciting economic initiative to benefit women living in the Bonobo Peace Forest!
We are proud to partner with Josephine Mpanga, founder of the Women’s Network for the Development of Djolu (REFED), and development consultant Monica Norley* to launch a new soap making project in the heart of the Bonobo Peace Forest.
Soap is a critical need for health and hygiene. Currently, there is no locally-made, high-quality soap in Djolu. This project will employ approximately 75 local women in making soap and selling it in surrounding markets. The women involved will gain new skills, an economic lifeline, and exposure to female-led entrepreneurship.
Our goal is to replicate this project in other Bonobo Peace Forest sites. While the ultimate cost of this enterprise will be around $45,000, the pilot program only requires $1,500 for supplies, equipment, and transport. The project is already underway: on our most recent expedition, we delivered several sacks of lye to Josephine. She and the women of REFED are ready to get started—all they need now is you!
*Monica Norley has worked in international development for 20+ years, namely within the area of women's economic empowerment. Having also owned a fair trade bath & body care company for ten years, she now devotes her time to working on projects mostly in Africa, training and advising women in the art of natural soap making and helping them set up sustainable enterprises. She also has significant experience working on several award-winning, environmental initiatives and has been recognized repeatedly for her work in the development sector, most recently by Winrock International as Volunteer of the Year for 2017.