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With gloves, jug and knife in hand, Kaliso makes her way through the wild scrub fields to the patch of aloe plants that she and her fellow cooperative members planted in 2016.

Kaliso is a member of the Kersale Soap Manufacturers Association - a cooperative made up of 20 women in Konso, southern Ethiopia.

Due to the increasing frequency of droughts in the area, its become difficult to make a living from agriculture.

An alternative livelihood

For these women, the aloe soap production project has provided an alternative income source, reducing their need to spend time collecting firewood or making homemade beer to sell. 

The aloe plants also help to protect the environment by hugging the soil and preventing erosion. A major problem in Konso where deforestation has left much of the land vulnerable to the elements.

When we first started there was little demand for the soap. But now people come on foot, motorcycle or by car to buy the soap. We sell everything that we produce.

- Kaliso.

Previously our husbands would question what we were doing. Since when do people make soap like this? Why are you wasting your time? But now there is great demand for the product.

- Kaliso.

Data snapshot
36% of young, low-income women like Kaliso now have enough spend power or income to meet their needs since taking part in BRACED's inclusive markets scheme.
Keeping up with demand

Their next challenge is to secure enough of the other ingredients and inputs including the moulds they use to make the soaps, to increase production.

The group produces 100 bars of soap per day which they sell for around 40 pence each. They have 210 pounds saved in the bank and make small payments to their members each month.

Kaliso estimates that their assets are worth 30,000 pounds.

An additional impact, beyond the initial economic objective, has been the political empowerment of the women. When a person feels empowered, then they feel confident to speak up.

- Samuel Karafo, BRACED project officer.

Next DataStory on inclusive markets

Awey Tchiri a member of BRACED-led self-help group in Ethiopia

Awey Tchiri, a 38-year-old mother of eight, is a member of the BRACED supported Tchelaleka Nega self-help group that come together once a week in Borena Zone to deposit their savings.

We didn’t know about this kind of thing in the past. Then [BRACED] came here and brought us together as a self-help saving group and we started saving.

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