Monday, November 7, 2016
Shampoo 101: Bringing Business and Innovation to the Community Garden
Written by Anna Aspenson, Strengthening Communities Program Manager
A garden can grow fresh, nutritious produce. However, when you add community to the equation, you add relationships and collective learning. At our San Antonio Community Garden we aim to cultivate a place of learning and leadership for the women who participate. The land provides a safe space for conversation, to discuss local challenges and solutions.This week, the program featured workshops on entrepreneurship. The women learned how to make natural shampoo from our medicinal herbs from the garden, which they can develop into a small business.
“There are not many opportunities for income in San Antonio,” describes Blanca Estela, one of the community garden leaders. “The men work in the field and women work in the home or sell their weaving. However, so many people sell woven bracelets that no one can make a decent living from it.”
The majority of San Antonio residents work in agricultural fields, fishing, or weaving traditional clothing. Many families are unable to rely on a steady income and over 70% of children are chronically malnourished.
The women of the community garden are all mothers of our preschool students and form a tight-knit group. They recently expressed interest in learning new skills to generate income for their families. Our Social Entrepreneurship Manager, Oscar Buch, gave an interactive tutorial on business development to help them begin to explore new entrepreneurial possibilities.
“You have to test the product first. For instance, you don’t want to sell shampoo that makes everyone’s hair fall out,” Oscar explains in Kaqchikel to the women sitting in a circle.
After learning the basics of business planning, budgeting, and management, the women learned how to make the shampoo.
The shampoo starts with a concentration of a medicinal herb, such as chamomile, rosemary, or aloe, which is boiled over a fire.
A special shampoo soap and salt is added to the herbs and mixed until reaching the right consistency.
The mixture is cooled in the nearby waters of Lake Atitlán.
The women distribute the final product into recycled plastic bottles found on the lake shore.
Distribution can be a messy job!
All of the women were excited to start selling the product. The next steps will be to make the budget and to choose roles in the business.
“Everyone expects women to stay at home taking care of the children. It’s almost taboo to have your own skills and income. I learn new trades because I can create new ways to support my children and to give them a better future,” says Blanca Estela.
We share the women’s excitement to watch this project grow! Interested in helping support empowering initiatives and workshops? Please consider giving to our San Antonio Community Garden.
The women in the Community Garden display the final product from the day's workshop.