Inicio > Mis eListas > cehunews > Mensajes

 Índice de Mensajes 
 Mensajes 514 al 533 
AsuntoAutor
96/05 - Geographer Centro H
97/05 - DEATH of P Centro H
98/05 - GAC-MAC M Centro H
1/06 - EIGHTH INTE Centro H
2/06 - Internation Alexande
3/06 - ABOUT HARVE Centro H
4/06 - Second Meet Centro H
5/06 - EIGHTH INTE Centro H
6/06 - Cultures an Centro H
7/06 - Job Watch: Centro H
8/06 - VISIT US Centro H
10/06 - FULL TIME Centro H
9/06 - EVENTS MARC Centro H
11/06 - EIGHTH INT Centro H
12/06 - ISA Job Wa Alexande
13/06 - ISA March Alexande
ISA jobwatch 1 pos Alexande
14/06 - EIGHTH INT Centro H
15/06 - Fully Fund Alexande
CeHu News 16/06 - Alexande
 << 20 ant. | 20 sig. >>
 
CeHuNews
Página principal    Mensajes | Enviar Mensaje | Ficheros | Datos | Encuestas | Eventos | Mis Preferencias

Mostrando mensaje 545     < Anterior | Siguiente >
Responder a este mensaje
Asunto:[CeHuNews] 23/06 - The New Frontlines of Capitalism: Bo rguindé Soap-Makers. ( The Globalist )
Fecha:Viernes, 23 de Junio, 2006  18:29:11 (+0000)
Autor:Alexander von Humboldt <cehumboldt @.........ar>


The New Frontlines of Capitalism: Borguindé Soap-Makers 

By Nathalie Boittin | Friday, June 23, 2006 

In Burkina Faso, soap is being used to instill capitalist values. It is a
product that
has a univeral use and market. Yet, just merely producing a finished good is
only half of
the equation. The women in Borguindé are making soap, but as Nathalie Boittin
discovered
in part two of this Globalist Diary, simply getting it to the marketplace is
quite
another story.
 
 got the idea when I discovered that a woman in the village had done some
training to
learn how to make soap some years ago, and she had taught other women, so they
actually
had a soap-making group. 

It turns out that soap is incredibly easy to make — take a few liters of oil and
shea
butter, mix it with lye, let it sit for a few hours, and voilà! Soap!


The problem was that — while they had received materials to make soap — they
used their
earnings from its sale for some other purpose. Thus, they had no funds with
which to
replace the oil and shea butter they had used, and their soap-making business
ground to a
halt. 
In the hope of reviving their business, I started making inquiries about how
much the
various materials would cost. I spoke with members of a soap-making group in the
nearby
town of Djibo and was appalled to learn how much everything would cost. 
The expense of cleanliness
12,500CFA for oil? The same for shea butter? Thousands more in lye, perfume and
more
training?… That would mean having to find NGOs or other groups to help fund the
project
and I was reluctant to get myself into projects involving funds, since I didn’t
want to
be seen as a walking checkbook in the eyes of the villagers. I get enough
requests for
money as it is. 
Fortunately, previous volunteers in the country had been involved in soap-making
schemes
and I was able to learn from their experiences. Rather than buying industrial
quantities
of oil and other materials, we could get just a few liters or kilos of each
ingredient
and make just a small quantity of soap, thus spending less than 5,000CFA (about
$10) for
all the materials. 
Gathering materials
Once that was sold, the women could use the profits to buy more materials and
start over
again. Thus, there wouldn’t be boxes of soap lying around gathering dust, and
the women
wouldn’t make more than they could sell. 

Rather than buying industrial quantities of oil and other materials, we just got
a few
liters or kilos of each ingredient to make a small quantity of soap.


So I went out and got the materials, brought them back to village — and set a
date for
making the first batch, in my aunt Haba’s courtyard. It turns out that soap is
incredibly
easy to make. Take a few liters of oil and shea butter, mix it with lye, let it
sit for a
few hours, and voilà! Soap! 
It was helpful that one of the women had already learned how to make soap, so I
didn’t
have to try to explain that you can only stir in one direction, or other
technical
details — they already knew all that. 
The first batch
However, I was a little horrified about the conditions in which soap was made.
The kilo
of lye was mixed with water and then left to cool in a plastic basin as children
played
with a ball nearby. At one point in their games, the ball bounced in our
direction just
missing the basin. I flinched when I thought what could have happened if the
ball had
bounced right in, splashing the lye all over us. 
We left the liquid soap to harden for a few hours, and all returned to our
respective
courtyards for dinner. Later that night, I returned to Haba’s courtyard, and she
greeted
me with an excited “It worked! It’s solid!” I had been skeptical about whether
the recipe
would actually work, so I got excited, too, and Haba laughed at me when I
mentioned my
doubts. 
A spotless result
We ran over to my aunt Fantare’s courtyard, and told her, “It worked! It
worked!” And she
answered “Ta haalu, bonndo!” which translates word for word as "Don't speak, you
wretch!"
but is more in the spirit of "Omigod, get OUT!" in American English. Apparently
I wasn't
the only one who didn't think it would work. 

The net profit turned out to be 450CFA, or about 90 cents. Which is a little
low,
especially when it needed to be divided up among the 14 women.


The women then got to work forming the soap into balls. I was again horrified
when they
did this with their bare hands, even though they had a pair of gloves — I
accidentally
got some of the not-quite-solid soap on my hands and the lye really burned! 
Meanwhile, the women were digging their hands into the soap mixture,
occasionally
exclaiming in pain. Weeks later Fantare still had lesions on her hands. 
In the end, they formed 49 balls of soap, which they sold for 100CFA each, or
110CFA for
the slightly larger balls. 
Marginal gains
By the next day, 27 of the soap balls had been sold. A week or so later, they
had all
been sold. This was great, except that because of the low price the women set —
and the
cost of the materials — the net profit turned out to be 450CFA, or about 90
cents. 
Even in Burkina this is a little low, especially when it needed to be divided up
among
the 14 women in the group. 
Cutting costs
I started to look into ways of bringing down the costs. I managed to find
cheaper shea
butter (3 liters for 1,500CFA instead of 2,000CFA — every penny counts!), and
found a
group of women in Djibo who owned an oil press. 

The women then got to work forming the soap into balls. I was again horrified
when they
did this with their bare hands, the lye really burned!


If the women in my group could collect enough nuts from balanite trees, they
could bring
the nuts to Djibo and have them pressed into oil for a very low cost, thus
bringing down
the price of the oil and raising their profits a little bit. 
At the same time, I made sure that the group’s secretary wrote down everyone who
had been
involved in the soap-making process (my name heading the list, although I didn’t
stipulate that), how much money had been spent on raw materials, how much they
expected
to earn, and so on. It looked like we were off to a good start. 
A fair opportunity
Then suddenly everything was complicated by the exciting event of a Women’s Fair
in
Djibo. Normally, I would have thought that a fair was a good thing, but the
problem was
that my soap-making group wanted to bring their soaps to the fair to sell. So
naturally
they wanted to make more soap fast — and they wanted it to look good. 
Thus, rather than form the balls by hand, they decided to use the mold they had
acquired
some years ago. But in order to fill the mold, they had to make more soap than
they had
in the first batch and they didn’t have time to make the oil themselves in order
to bring
down the cost. 
The second soap affair
So they used every CFA they had earned from the first batch — and then some — to
acquire
more oil, shea butter and lye, and made the soaps. 
Somewhat hilarious, in my opinion, was the fact that they also used an ancient
set of
wooden stamps to mark the square soaps as their own. 

If the women in my group could collect enough nuts from balanite trees, they
could have
them pressed into oil for a very low cost and raising their profits a little
bit.


Not that this is funny in itself, but it so happens that for some strange reason
the
wooden stamps bear the acronym PEE. What this stands for I can’t fathom — and of
course
no one else in the village is amused by this — but when I first looked at the
finished
product and saw 50 bars of soap with ‘PEE’ stamped on them, I confess I did feel
a very
juvenile giggle coming on. 
In any case, all this was well and good and we set a price that would enable
them to
cover their expenses. I biked the soaps over to Djibo and then told the women
repeatedly
that they would need to go to Djibo the day before the fair in order to secure
their
stall. 
Stall difficulties
On the evening before the fair, I went to my aunt’s house and asked whether
they’d gotten
their stall. After nearly 10 months in the country, you would think I would have
been
able to predict this — of course the answer was “No, none of us went, but
tomorrow we’re
ALL going to the fair and we can just get our stall then!” 
I tried to tell them that this is not generally how fairs work, knowing that it
was too
late anyway. The next morning, I left to go to the fair. I met Marguerite, the
woman in
charge of organizing it and she told me that the soap-making group could still
get a
stall, but they would have to wait until after the opening ceremony. 
A woman's right to sell soap
The Minister for Promoting Women’s Development was coming — and she would be
making
speeches! 
The women used every CFA they had earned from the first batch, and then some, to
acquire
more oil, shea butter and lye, and made the soaps.


Meanwhile one of the women’s husbands, Dembal, to whom I had the misfortune of
giving my
cell phone number, started calling me repeatedly about the women’s stall, even
as the
minister was standing up to deliver her speech. 
I kept telling him that I couldn’t interrupt the opening ceremony just because
the women
had failed to go to Djibo the day before as I told them, and he kept telling me,
“You
can! Go talk to Marguerite!” 
He wouldn’t believe that I couldn’t just stand up, grab the mike from the
minister’s
hands as she explained the importance of women’s roles in developing the economy
and
demand a stall. 
Disappointing Results 
The unfortunate result was that in the end the women didn’t get their stall, and
none of
the soap was sold at the fair. Marguerite was too busy following the minister to
allocate
a stall and apparently no one else could do it for her. In the end the women got
bored
and went back to Borguindé, leaving me more frustrated than I can express. 
The other unfortunate result was that because of the different shape of the
soap, it had
to be sold for a higher price — 175CFA a bar. Because of this, people in
Borguindé were a
lot less enthusiastic about buying it and even after the price was lowered to
150CFA,
they’ve still sold very slowly. 
A soap surplus
After a couple weeks, more than half the bars still remain. However, people are
buying
them, albeit slowly. And once they’re all gone, we can get back to the original,
simpler
and more profitable form of soap-making, hopefully with oil the women will have
pressed
themselves. 

The unfortunate result was that in the end the women didn’t get their stall, and
none of
the soap was sold at the fair.


In any case, I intend to stay away from fairs from now on — and to start
strongly
advocating the use of gloves! 
But if anyone is interested in purchasing a bar of soap, which despite its name
will
clean your clothes very effectively, just send me your name and address with 30¢
for the
soap and $10 for postage, and I’ll mail it to you right away! 


http://www.theglobalist.com/DBWeb/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=5425




		
_________________________________________________________ 
Horóscopos, Salud y belleza, Chistes, Consejos de amor: 
el contenido más divertido para tu celular está en Yahoo! Móvil. 
Obtenelo en http://movil.yahoo.com.ar

 



-~--------------------------------------------------------------------~-
         Compra o vende de manera diferente en www.egrupos.net