We are thrilled to announce our second cohort of RISE Fellows. Susan Odonogo is the founder of Motisha A Dada initiative; a community-based enterprise that supports households in the informal settlements and rural areas of Kisumu County- Kenya. Her initiative improves access to hygiene through the provision of affordable homemade soap. Susan is passionate about women`s economic empowerment and has therefore trained marginalized women to sell her product so that they can gain an income and support their families.
Continue reading below to learn more about Susan and her social enterprise!
"Susan, can you share with our community more about yourself? What were you doing before your entrepreneurial journey?"
Before my entrepreneurial journey, I was, and still am a girl child mentor. I have always had a passion for the girl child and this was fuelled at such a young age when I began participating in voluntary activities. It was my voluntary work that I nurtured my fondness for supporting women and girls.
"Please can you explain more about the Motisha A Dada initiative?"
I realized that buying soap from the supermarkets for households with a low income is a luxury due to high prices and it is common practice in the informal settlements and rural homes that families share scraps of soap.
Motisha A Dada initiative has enabled marginalized families to buy cheaper multi-purpose soap that is used for handwashing, washing utensils and laundry. The need for soap recently became much more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic and I wanted to make sure that all families, regardless of income are able to protect themselves and their families.
"What inspired you to dedicate your life to this work?"
When COVID-19 reached Kenya, all institutions closed and I returned to the village where I grew up to be with my family. Meanwhile, the government had outlined the COVID-19 legislation which included regular handwashing with soap and water.
I saw that many of my neighbours were unable to adhere to the rules, as they could not afford the basic necessities such as a bar of soap. I continued to think about this issue which not only affects my community, but also the families in the informal settlements neighboring Kisumu City. This issue highlighted an opportunity to create much needed change, so I started my entrepreneurial journey.
I bought some supplies with my savings and my family and I started to make homemade soap. We sold these at affordable prices and the demand increased. As the social enterprise grew, we were able to support women in the community by providing them with employment and a source of income.
"What do you hope to gain from the RISE Fellowship?"
I hope that this project will empower the women economically as well as improve hygiene through making soap accessible and affordable to low income households. Simple hygiene practices such as hand washing using soap and water will significantly reduce ailments associated with lack of hand washing which in turn, will reduce the cost of health care to households. I hope that this project will be the first of its kind in Kisumu. When you empower a woman, you empower the whole family and the community at large and this is my desire.
This is a photograph of Susan and her employees on a team-building day.
Do you want to support underserved communities in their fight against COVID-19? Donate here to support Susan to improve access to hygiene in Kenya.