We are proud to share the progress that Susan Odongo has made during her RISE Fellowship. Susan is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who has created the social enterprise, Motisha A Dada with the aim of providing dignified employment for women whilst tackling hygiene poverty. When Susan first pitched to RISE, she was making soap at her home packaged in empty soda bottles. Since becoming a RISE Fellow, Susan has worked on creating a brand to scale up her business with the aim of partnering with hotels, hospitals and supermarkets in the future.
To learn more about Susan and her accomplishments, continue reading below!
"How did the RISE Fellowship support your business?"
I joined RISE in 2021 after pitching my idea to the Sundara team and their board. RISE supported my vision and to create and sell multipurpose soap while assisting underprivileged women in society. Since starting the initiative, we have been able to provide over 400 litres of soap to low income communities. I have also received mentorship sessions from Erin Doppelt on how to use social media in a professional capacity, Daniel Hartman for marketing support, Meena Mirpuri taught me how to manage my finances and I took part in Sophia Sunwoo’s Sales Mastery Class. The mentorship program helped us to grow as a business and guided us through the hurdles that we experienced each month.
"Since the beginning of your fellowship, what has your impact been?"
Our staff team comprises of 50 women, some of whom are completely financially dependent on my social enterprise for survival.. Additionally, we have trained:
25 volunteers who were interested in gaining work experience in a social enterprise.
50 women to make soap,
Over 50 children to wash their hands properly.
Since December, our soap has reached the hands of over 150 families.
"What was the community's access to soap-like before the fellowship, and how has that changed over the past six months?"
At first, many members of my community showed little interest in purchasing soap as they did not understand how it could prevent illness. They would also exclaim that soap has the cost of gold as the coronavirus pandemic caused the price of the soap to soar. Lastly, soap was not commonly available in the rural areas as their local corner stores did not supply them.
We reached out to low-income families and educated them on the importance of soap whilst providing an accessible and affordable product. The Motisha A Dada team visits hard to reach communities in remote areas as a part of our door-to-door delivery service. This is one of our programs that I am most proud of as we have seen a real shift in attitudes towards practising and prioritizing good hygiene.
"How have women been supported through your work?"
We have provided 50 women with dignified work and we have seen a shift in women’s role within society. Some of our staff members have also found new career opportunities which they have been able to take on as a result of being trained by Motisha A Dada.
"How has the fellowship supported your confidence as an entrepreneur?"
Through becoming a RISE Fellow, I have gained a massive amount of confidence in both myself as an entrepreneur and my business. RISE has provided me with opportunities to share my work with their RISE community and I have overcome every challenge that I have faced with their support. To say that Rise changed my life for the better would be an understatement because it has positively impacted every aspect of it.
"How have you inspired other young girls in Kenya?"
With RISE’s support, I have created a new reality of what a 21-year-old female entrepreneur can do. I have set a new standard for what young women in low income communities can do to positively give back. I am always touched to receive messages from women who are interested in our work, or even joining our organization. It feels like a huge vote of confidence and it makes all of our hard work worth while.
"What do you envision the future of Motisha a dada looking like?"
I would love to see Motisha A Dada expand to a larger premises, employ more women and reach more people. I am hoping to gain more exposure for the brand so that I can continue to provide more employment opportunities whilst preventing illness in marginalized communities in Kenya.
I am actively looking to partner with hotels, hospitals, supermarkets and sponsors so that I can continue to expand. I am extremely inspired by Junior Bakasa, another RISE Fellow, who is having a huge impact in her community in Zimbabwe and would like to follow in her footsteps.
"Is there anything else you would like to to share?"
There’s a famous saying that goes “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” and that is exactly what RISE has offered me. They have held my hand and guided me through the past 6 months. I am so appreciative of the wonderful mentors, donors and to the amazing Sundara team for all of their support. The RISE family has changed my life and has impacted my whole community and I will be forever grateful!