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Many people in life see social challenges around them but do not act. However, for social entrepreneur Cristina Margarida Rocha, this was not an option, and she took her love of handmade soap and used it to build a high impact social business to empower other women. Today, Daisy Social is making a real difference, and making great soap with a strong backstory.

What does your company do?

DAISY Social empowers women with skills to produce low cost handmade soap by reusing ingredients and materials, creating jobs and protecting the environment. We have established strategic partnerships with companies who donate their by-products for us to use, and with retailers of the equipment needed to produce our handmade soaps, at a fair price in order to support our Daisy-in-a-box project. We have also made agreements with associations and NGOs that represent vulnerable women to work together for women’s empowerment.

What inspired you to start your company?

Margarida, the Portuguese word for the flower Daisy, is one of the names of almost all the women in my family. It is a name that carries tradition and experience, and it comes with the tales of the powerful and creative ladies that have inspired me throughout my life. The growing consciousness of the world’s population about natural, less polluting and sustainable alternatives to the indispensable, every-day products like soap, has been a catalyst to the growth of the handmade soap business. A market for products that not only nurture us but our homes too, and of course the earth, has been stretching across the globe. DAISY Handmade Soap is a social project that is environmentally conscious and economically friendly, appealing to citizens across the different income brackets.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

Vegetable oils are the main ingredient in the production of handmade soap. These oils are rich in fatty acids, giving the skin nourishment and hydration. Glycerine, an end product of the process, softens the skin, making the addition of any preservatives or synthetic detergents to the soap unnecessary. In our project, we recycle used vegetable oil, after it has been tested for quality control, allowing the final product to have a more affordable and sustainable price, to be produced and sold by the ladies who are involved with the project. The revenue will enable them to continue with this project, as well as fund their own individual dreams. This project is also attractive to corporates that want to include social responsibility practices in their goals, by sponsoring our training kits.

Tell us a little about your team

The team started with myself as the full time manager of the project and two women volunteers, a marketeer and an accounts person, with whom the core values and the strategy was established. Our Tagline is "Be The Change”. After developing our production methods, the first batches of soap were successfully sold and the revenue was invested to give training to the first four ladies in the team. Each newly empowered woman becomes part of the team as a new Daisy. At present 14 "Daisies" have been empowered to produce Daisy Handmade Soaps. Some of them have activist skills and will use them to empower other women.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

With a BSc in Food Engineering, a Post Graduate degree in Quality Management and a MSc in Innovation Management, I have always worked for the government and simultaneously as an independent consultant. But sharing my knowledge with others was the way I felt more fulfilled. During my journey in Africa, after many years growing my expertise, I have suddenly realized that the time to give back has arrived. Social innovation was the field where I felt my contribution could have more impact and by observing the needs of the population around me the opportunity showed up. Once someone asked an African woman what would she carry with her on her travels in Africa and she immediately answered - toilet paper and soap. Indeed soap is seen as a primary product and is one of the main products taken into account for measuring inflation. I do not come from an entrepreneurial background, but my great grandmother, Margarida (Daisy), used to make soap from olive oil. The 100% natural soap was enough to last her the whole year and provide the family with moisture, health and love.
In a world that is constantly changing, we cannot stand on the side lines and watch things happen, we have to be the change ourselves.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

In future we want to make a difference in the lives of more women. In the present year,  14 women have been empowered; In Year 2, we aim to empower 50 women; In Year 3,  100 women. We want to reach vulnerable women, the unemployed, the deaf, albinos and refugees.

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

As a social entrepreneur, the chain reaction of women empowering each other gives me a huge amount of personal satisfaction. As an ecopreneur, knowing that we are contributing to reduce the carbon footprint gives double satisfaction. We get stronger with each hard life story of the women we meet during our journey and get inspired by the transformation they go through after being trained and receiving the Daisy-in-a-box kit.

What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Start small, dream big, do it with passion and be resilient.

Source: Lionesses of Africa