“Here in Juaso, we have lost almost all our farmlands to mining activities, thereby creating food insecurity in this area. By working at this soap-making mini-factory, I will make some income and be better positioned to fend for my dependents. Even though I’m a seamstress, business has taken a nose-dive in recent times and so this soap-making venture, for me, is very timely as it will go a long way to help me cater for my children and family.”
Madam Mary Nyarkoa is a witness to the wanton destruction of farmlands in Juaso near Osino in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region of Ghana by mining companies and laments the adverse impact of mining activities in the area on food production and the livelihoods of her compatriots.
She recounts that foodstuff such as cassava and plantain, which used to be in abundance prior to the advent of mining activities in the area, are now scarce, thereby heightening their prices on the market – a situation which has brought untold economic hardships on various households in Juaso.
There is, however, a new day that has dawned on her and other community members of Juaso as they can now boast of a black soap-making business, which builds on and adds value to the community’s traditional cocoa and plantain-growing livelihoods and promises positive prospects for the entire community.
The black soap project uses the discarded parts of the cocoa and plantain that they traditionally grow in Juaso, so it is a sustainable project that promotes preservation of farmland and the precious Atiwa Forest ecosystem that Juaso is part of.
The Juaso soap mini-factory is a collaboration between the Fanteakwa South District Assembly and Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA), a non-profit-making organisation that helps West African communities that are threatened by the destructive impacts of extractive projects to take control of their own future.
This black soap facility is the project that Juaso chose to implement through the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), an intensive engagement between ACA and the Juaso Community during which the community received financial and capacity building support to implement a project that would further the community’s sustainable development vision. Kaeme Cosmetics Limited, a high-end Ghanaian body product company, provided technical support and training to the community and a guaranteed market for their product.
“I can say with confidence that this soap production business has a bright future because as we speak, it is the only soap factory in our district (Fanteakwa South) and so we already have a huge market to do business. I’m sure we will expand to serve other nearby communities and districts. It will get to a time that we may have to engage more people, thereby creating employment opportunities for others, so we really have a good future”, Madam Nyarkoa further said.
“We have witnessed a lot of positive developments in our lives since ACA began its work here at Juaso. Even before this soap-making venture, they educated and assisted us to develop a savings habit through “susu box” concept and so now that this soap-making business has finally taken off, …. Even though we have just started operations we are positive that it will really cushion our lives financially.”
53-year-old Elizabeth Wayoe, who is also one of the initial 28 workers of the factory, says she can heave a sigh of relief because she now is sure of a sustainable income, which will cushion her life in many ways.
“I know for sure that if I commit myself to this work, I stand to gain in many ways because apart from the financial rewards I will be getting from this job, I will no more be buying soap since we (as workers) are given some pieces of the soap for use at home”, she said.
The Juaso soap factory commenced operations on Friday, 6th October 2023 and has been producing raw organic black soap in commercial quantities.