Réka Zempléni ’16
Women’s Micro-Enterprise Development, Sustainable Soap, Camarones, Ecuador
I spent this summer with the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation in Ecuador, working with a women’s micro-enterprise development project. I spent eight weeks in the tiny community of Camarones helping a small group of women develop their soap-making micro-enterprise. The project provides a source of income for the women, who would otherwise have limited access to any jobs. It also enhances sustainable practices; the women use the seeds of the locally grown piñon seeds to make organic, handmade soaps. I performed a range of tasks to facilitate the development of the micro-enterprise. These included working with wood to assemble a drying box for the soaps with basic bicycle mechanics to enhance efficiency of the oil press, making soap and experimenting with various natural additives for coloring and scent, developing a webpage and a business plan for the micro-enterprise, and meeting with clients for the soap. As a result, we helped advance the project to a state at which the operation could generate an income and improve of the livelihood of these women. This internship gave me invaluable insight into how sustainable development can be put into practice, and reaffirmed my interest in studying further and perhaps later working in this field.
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Ecuador
Paola Durango, Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation