Savonnier, The Soap-Maker

How Somawari became Savonnier, the Soap-Maker

This is the inspiring story of a rural housewife and mother who learnt a new skill to chase her husband’s dream.

Somwari Kediyang, 35, was living her life as a wife and mother like many of her rural counterparts in Kayda village of West Sighbhum District in Jharkhand. It was 2012, when she joined Sarjuba Mahila Samuh and stated her journey of transformation. Even Somawari was not aware that one day she would become well-known by the name of a Savonnier (soap-maker) by the villagers.

Somwari became the treasurer of the Sarjuba Mahila Samuh (running under the fold of DAY-NRLM and Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society) upon joining in 2012 and took a small loan of Rs 3,500 from the Sakhi Mandal.

“As I was taking small loans and fulfilling daily needs, every time I attended the meeting I wondered is this the only purpose that we are united in a group? I did not want to continue like this, as I always wanted to have a sustainable source of livelihood,” said Somwari. She was the second wife of Bengra Kendiyang, 50, and due to huge age gap they rarely spoke to each other. However, one day her husband shared that he had learned soap-making in his young days but was unable to do something with it utilize it due to lack of financial resources.

On learning this, Somwari came up with the idea of setting up a small soap-making unit at her home and discussed it with the group members. She was looking for financial help and she was confident that she would get it. She took a loan of Rs 20,000 in September 2017 from her Sakhi Mandal.

She also learned the skill of soap-making from her husband so that she be a helping hand. Today the couple are earning around Rs 1,000 by selling their soaps and other products like washing and bathing soap in the weekly market and supplying to the shops in nearby villages. Somwari’s entrepreneurial streak is such that she is also selling the residue of soap as soap water that can be used as an alternative to regular detergent.

Now, Somwari is planning to scale up her business and also spread the skill among Sakhi Mandal members so that they can explore similar livelihood options. In December 2017 she took a loan of Rs 80,000 under SVEP (Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Program) to purchase an e-rickshaw for her stepson to add another  source of income to the family’s kitty.