rooted in seven years of hygiene activism.
In 2013 our founder, Erin Zaikis, met a group of school children in a small village on the Thai-Myanmar border who had no knowledge of how to use soap.
She realized then that there was a huge necessity for education and access to basic hygiene products. Children around the world were dying without access to these products, while large-scale operations such as hotels were throwing bars of soap into landfills after just one use.
With a growing team committed to making a difference, Erin founded Sundara. While our programs have since evolved with RISE, our mission to empower women and eradicate health and hygiene disparities across the globe remains the same.
Sundara began in 2013 as a non-profit recycling gently used hotel soap.
For seven years we worked across India, Uganda and Myanmar, hiring 40 women and providing them with their first ever formal employment.
We recycled over 1 million bars of soap, while reaching 200,000 people with intensive hygiene education each year.
We increased rates of hand washing in all of the communities we worked in and taught women how to run their own sustainable soap-recycling businesses.
DISCOVERING A WAY
TO GROW OUR IMPACT
Throughout our extensive work as a soap-recycling organization, we were awed by how many of the women that we met had transformational ideas on how to improve the health and hygiene of their own communities. However, it became clear that each of these talented entrepreneurs faced significant challenges accessing resources and support.
In 2020 our entire globe came face-to-face with a devastating pandemic that intensified the need for good hygiene practices in every part of the world. We knew that it was time to pivot as an organization. Building on our time helping women run their own soap recycling businesses, we launched RISE.
RISE empowers female entrepreneurs to become leaders in the water, sanitation and hygiene fields. We leverage our expertise to provide the training, mentorship, and seed funding our fellows need in order to establish sustainable businesses that transform their communities.
Foster dignity and respect. It’s a fundamental human right to be clean and healthy with access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Champion sustainability. Provide inclusive and ongoing support to further develop the capacities of our entrepreneurs, setting them up for long term success.
Respond to those in need, when they need it. Meet communities where they are at - whether that be through short-term emergency aid or long-term mentorship and seed funding.
Breathe confidence into women. Empower those who suffer disproportionately from economic and social inequality.