By Uju Nobei
The State Government of Osun has engaged 5,000 women in the area of local soap production with a view to empowering them and indirectly connecting them to the international markets.
The programme conceived in partnership with an offtaker, Kasmo Industries, an indigenous soap making company in Osogbo, is supported with financial impetus from an investor organization in the state.
According to facilitator of the programme, Mr. Rufus Idris, the 5,000 women supply black soap which serves as raw material for the local production of over 6 million bar soap, “Dudu Kasmo”, for the first phase in the growing Kasmo Soap business.
He said the state Government of Osun through GEMS4, a DFID-fund programme will link expanding market for unique wholesale and retail products from Osun into larger local and international markets. One of the products selected for the programme is Dudu Kasmo.
It will be recalled that a memorandum of understanding was signed by Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Alhaji Kasali Owolabi, the CEO of Kasmo Industries Limited in October 2016 to create a non-governmental scheme to reduce hunger, poverty and raise the standard of living through wealth creation.
“The benefits attached to the production of Kasmo soap include capacity building for employed staffs, giving the product more credibility as well as improving the quality and quantity of the goods.
“With GEMS4 support, Kasmo Industries Limited is expected to increase its capacity for raw materials intake from rural women, increasing their production which will in turn increase their income,” Mr. Rufus noted.
One of the local soap makers who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, Emilia Abioye said the initiative has empowered them by giving them direct access to produce for Kasmo Company thereby improving their profit.
She expressed her appreciation to the state government and GEMS4 for the programme, a move Mrs Abioye confirmed could banish poverty in the land.
So far, about 10,059 cooperative societies have been registered under several similar schemes in the state. Through partnership with DFID and access to a N2.5bn development fund, 133 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises have been setup, with 800 cooperative societies benefitting in low interest loans which has helped them employ over 10,000 individuals across the state.
The money facilitated through the Central Bank of Nigeria is in collaboration with SMEDAN under the GEMS4 scheme to provide opportunities to itinerant business owners in order to boost their productivity and generate more income for them.
The government, however, reiterated its readiness to track the programme’s impact in the lives of itinerant women local soap makers in Osun State.