Promoting health while generating profits: CLI's Butembo Savonnerie

Healthcare is a tremendous challenge in the Congo for numerous reasons: Congo’s large landmass, lack of resources, and shortage of medical professionals all come to mind. Perhaps the most frustrating of the challenges, though, is the fact that many of the diseases that most deeply affect the Congolese population are entirely preventable - many without any medical attention! The risk of Cholera, for example, can be drastically reduced through proper hygiene. Preventing major diseases, in cases like this, is just a matter of ensuring that basics such as soap are widely available.

In 2017, CLI’s young leaders in Butembo came together and recognized the role they could play in combating this problem. The result was one of CLI’s most impressive business projects: A savonnerie (artisinal soap factory) serving the local population - and doing so profitably!

Savonnerie VIJANA is a collaboration between CLI and our local partner PEREX-CV in Butembo. All thirty youth at the Butembo site came together to start a business providing stable employment and a much-needed service that, in the long-term, will help save lives. Launching in March of 2017, Savonnerie VIJANA has been operating continuously (at a profit) for nearly two years. The seed capital necessary to kick off was less than $1,200. In addition to providing stable profits, local jobs, and soap that is used to prevent disease, our Butembo Savonnerie has served as a living classroom for our young leaders and entrepreneurs. CLI believes deeply in learning through experience, and starting a business before turning 18 is one of the best ways to dive in!

We could not be more proud of the innovative vision and execution of our young leaders in Butembo. Thank you to them for inspiring us and to all of our supporters for making this work possible!

Nathaniel Houghton