Vanuatu coconut soap on its way to New Zealand
A local Vanuatu soap maker is about to enter the New Zealand market after negotiating a new deal with Trade Aid.
A Vanuatu soap maker is to enter the New Zealand market after a new deal with Trade Aid to stock three varieties of its coconut project soap.
The soap has been made by the women of Ulevu island in Malekula since 2007.
An Auckland woman, Liane Farry of the New Zealand Children's Trust, helped set up Palm Project, which has just become financially independent.
She told Koroi Hawkins she is very proud of what the community has achieved in the face of overwhelming odds.
LIANE FARRY: Every product in the soap except for the lye comes from the village, comes from Vanuatu so its got no toxic chemicals in it. Its completely natural. And we are hoping now with the introduction of the wonderful people at trade aid who have said they will buy it. We are hoping that it will sell very well for them because the main philosophy of Palm Project is we buy the oil from the women. So the money goes straight back into the community and of course into the women's hands which goes to the children. And they are now making cold pressed virgin organic coconut oil and their soap is exquisite.
KOROI HAWKINS: And the New Zealand marketing end of it, where is it going through?, You said trade aid, what is happening with that soap and where can people get it?
LF: Well it will be in the 32 trade aid shops in New Zealand it will be stocked by all the trade aid shops in New Zealand. I would say it will be there in a month or two. They are making it now and they are boxing it and it will be back up at the island for another week and then it will be coming to New Zealand.
KH: And what will it be called or branded as coming into New Zealand?
LF: Its called Coconut Project, the soap is called Coconut Project and we have three flavours. We have one as coconut oil and cacao we call that an exfoliating soap because we have the cocoa bean ground up in the soap. The next one is called coconut oil and niang which is their natural tumeric and that is very good for skin cancer and we call it skin rejuvenating soap and our last one is coconut oil and tamanu oil gardeners soap we call it because it is their local anti-septic anti-bacterial oil called tamanu.
KH: You mentioned that you started out helping and they have become self-sufficient how has that come about, with in terms of getting them to stand on their own two feet?
LF: By selling the soap, because everyone, anyone who has ever used this soap wants to use it again its a beautiful soap. It actually works in salt-water so its really good for boats as well and selling the soap. So we sell the soap here in Vanuatu and now in New Zealand and that pays for everything they have to buy. And it is only recently that they have become financially independent. From the moment we built the soap factory and they decided to make soap in that way the business belonged to them. But you know as well as I do only when you pay the bills does something belong to you. And so they pay the bills and so the business is theirs.
Liane Farry says the community also successfully runs the Pacific's first solar powered desalination plant which also generates surplus electricity, making the island community one of the most self-sufficient in Vanuatu.
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