Kibera, located close to Nairobi’s city center in Kenya, is the largest slum in all of Africa. Most of Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day. Unemployment rates are high. Rates of AIDS and HIV cases are prevalent throughout the giant slum, as are cases of assault and rape. The few schools that operate in Kibera are largely unattended, as most parents cannot afford education for their children. Clean, running water is scarce, causing hygiene-preventable disease to be commonplace. Furthermore, the great majority living in the giant slum lack access to electricity and medical care.
The slum was not created by happenstance or from bad luck. In the early 1900s, the British, who colonized the region, intentionally segregated themselves from the natives of Kenya, forcing them out of their city-center homes to live on the fringes of Nairobi. Working as indentured servants to the British, the inhabitants worked the railroads in the region and eventually, several tribes from outside the region flooded in for work, quickly overpopulating Kibera, which has ultimately turned into its present day blight.
Thanks to two enterprising women, The Lovin’ Soap Project will be working in the Kibera slum this coming May. Peggy Tipton of Amani Soaps in Atlanta, GA and Caitlin Ashbier of Cait + Co, also in Atlanta, GA, will be taking off to Nairobi in May to teach a small group of Kibera women how to make soap and skin care products, and how to bootstrap their newfound knowledge into a profit-earning business for themselves and their families.
Teaming with the Washindi Center in Nairobi, a credit, savings and Microfinance organization working to improve the lives of the people of Kibera, Peggy and Caitlin will instill in their students how to make soap and skin care products from local ingredients, such as avocado oil, palm oil and shea butter, as well as how to keep track of expenses, inventory, profit margins, marketing, salaries and much more.
This will be the first time since The Lovin’ Soap Project’s inception that a team will be traveling and working in a foreign nation without the direct presence of the co-founders, Amanda and Benjamin Aaron. Soon after catching word of this potential project to Africa early last year, Amanda and Benjamin had the good news of becoming pregnant, which made traveling to Kenya a bit problematic, as they planned on taking several months off from travel to be with their newborn, Juniper Blue.
Both Peggy and Caitlin jumped at the chance to help, even with the time-and-distance sacrifice made to home, business and family. Meet our newest assets to the Lovin’ Soap Project:
Caitlin Abshier is a graduate of Kennesaw State University, where she studied entrepreneurship and business management. During college, Caitlin sold her soaps and other crafts at local markets, creating a demand for her locally made goods. After graduating in 2014, she gave herself one year to hustle and see if she could create a sustainable business. Within that year, she hired her first employee and launched a second line of products. In 2017, Caitlin created Cait + Co, a family of brands which includes Revive Bath and Body, Luxe Apothecary, Aquamarine, and Urban Wick. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as investing in other budding entrepreneurs.
Peggy Tipton has been making soaps for 18 years. She is the owner of Amani Soaps in Decatur, GA, which creates artisan soaps, candles, and other apothecary items. In a previous life, she worked as a public health professional on programs addressing HIV prevention among youth in Africa. She has an undergraduate degree from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and a Master of Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill. In her free time, she enjoys being with her five kids, watching soccer, traveling, and pretending to like running. Her favorite scent is lavender.
As Always, We Need Your Help
The Lovin’ Soap Project is run strictly by the kindness of you and your peers. This project is well underway and wheels will be down in Kenya in just a few short weeks (the beginning of May). But, as with all projects, it doesn’t end there. We will recurrently travel to Kenya to keep up with the group as time goes on and assist with any and all assets, equipment, supplies and further empowerment that we can provide so that our newfound group may grow. Thank you for your consideration and donation.