Laundry with a clear conscience
We are not the only ones who produce soap berries. What sets us apart is that we have learned that fair working conditions come at a cost - and we think that is worth investing in.
Here you can read much more about how our soap berries differ from others on the market.
We have deliberately chosen to trade only with soapberries from Nepal, which is one of the world's poorest countries. Large parts of the population live exclusively from what they grow themselves, and the country's economy depends on rich nations choosing to trade with them rather than their large neighboring countries China and India.
It is not an easy matter to do business in a developing country, but we would never choose to do business elsewhere because the quality of soapberry in the western Himalayas in Nepal is something very special.
And precisely Nepal's unique plant resources such as soapberry are, in addition to being a significant part of the farmers' income base, a real opportunity to create further bio-economic development in western Nepal. We dream of researching and further developing even more of Nepal's soapberry. Find new ways to use the berries and develop new, innovative products with soap berries, so that we become an active part of the development in Nepal.
At the same time, we have a unique opportunity to show the Nepalese how to run a business sustainably. We want to be the good example that leads the way and shows that it pays to have good working conditions, offer fair and timely payment and to work to preserve our beautiful nature.
Soapberry from Nepal
Soap berries grow in several places on the planet, but the special altitude and growing conditions in the Himalayas in western Nepal mean that the berries that grow here are bursting with the natural soap substances saponins.
In the specific area where we get our soapberry, the content of saponins is approx. 49%. In practical terms, this means more washes per berries, which means that a wash costs DKK 0.55 on average. In comparison, soap berries from the eastern part of Nepal only contain up to 39% saponins.
Our supply chain
Just as there is a big difference in the quality of soap berries, there is also a big difference in the conditions under which they are produced - both in relation to the people who work with them and nature.
Nepal is a country affected by great poverty, inequality, bureaucracy, corruption and lack of respect for nature and human rights.
In the beginning, this meant that we could not rely 100% on our contacts and intermediaries. Although they assured us that things were fine, they were not to our standards.
That is why we have entered the Nepalese supply chain ourselves to gain control over our production and the conditions under which it takes place. And this happens in close cooperation with our local partners who share our values and desire to strengthen development in Nepal. Together with them, we work to ensure proper working conditions and fair payment for all involved. It is a process that we will never finish and that can always be improved.
The berries are picked high in the Himalayas from our own producer in Nepal. The farmers harvest the soap berries once a year, and the harvest is influenced by the weather and whether the seasons hold true. This means that the prices of raw berries vary from year to year when we shop. Just as coffee prices and the prices of many other raw materials are affected by the market, the weather, the harvest etc. It is important to us that soapberries are harvested with respect for nature and that a share is always left for the locals, restitution and natural self-sowing.
The last time we visited our value chain in Nepal, we saw that thanks to technological tools such as mobile phones, farmers have begun to mobilize and set market prices that support rather than create competition. This means that they are now in a stronger negotiating position and can secure fair prices. We see this as a positive development that we would like to support.
The majority of the harvested berries are today exported raw to Nepal's large neighboring countries India and China. We want to create additional income opportunities and development in Nepal, where the need for economic growth is greatest. Therefore, we have chosen that all processing and packaging of our soap berries must naturally also take place in Nepal.
The entire trade chain in Nepal is characterized by a great deal of trust, with the largest buyers sending advance payment for the berries down through the chain all the way to the farmers. Just as we also send payment in advance - out to our families at the other end so that they can initiate the work. This places great demands on the patience and understanding of our dealers here in Denmark, because here you are part of a larger context where you help us invest sustainably in Nepal.
Our work with
Women in Nepal
In our production of soap berries in Nepal, our focus is to work with and create jobs for women. It is not entirely irrelevant whether you employ women or men in a developing country. And it's not because we don't like men (because we can!), but rather because several studies have shown that the key to growth in developing countries lies in investing in women and girls.
Statistically, women in developing countries invest up to 90% of their income for their family, their children, their health and schooling - where men only invest 30-40%.
If we want to create development in poor societies, the key is to invest in girls and women.
The fact that it is typically far more difficult to be a woman than a man in a country like Nepal is of course also a reason in itself. The women in developing countries go to school for less time (if they go to school at all), get married away or have to take care of the family. It's a huge waste of resources - especially considering the above statistics.
We believe that as a Western company you have an enormous responsibility to contribute to constructive development in the countries you trade with. We are therefore very conscious of specifically asking our Nepalese partners to employ women in production. Because it simply makes such a big difference.
We are of course a small fish in a very big ocean. But we are still proud to be able to live up to our values and invest in our fellow sisters in Nepal - and in this way contribute to the development of one of the world's poorest regions in cooperation with all of you
Our collaboration with the sheltered workshop
The factory Aalykke
To pack our soap berries and wool drying balls, we have a collaboration with the protected workshop Fabrikken Aalykke in Aalborg, which is an offer of protected employment for adults with developmental disabilities who want to participate in production and assembly tasks.
And we are very happy and grateful for the work they are doing at a time when our company is moving. At the same time, it is close to our hearts to be able to support such a positive local initiative as Aalykke.
We have visited Aalykke several times and are always blown away by the good atmosphere, the smiles and the joy at work. Each and every bag of soap berries is filled with precision and closed and packed with great care before being sent to our warehouse and from there on to our dealers. We couldn't dream of more!
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