BubbleNut Wash: soapnut-based homecare products for a sustainable world
Explain your project in details:
BubbleNut Wash is a social enterprise that produces natural detergents made of soapnuts (Sapindaceae berry). With the rapid pace of industrialization in the last twenty years, excessive exposure to chemicals has become a way of life leading to negative environmental consequences, rivers and ocean pollution and land degradation. BubbleNut Wash provides a natural alternative that can replace chemical-intensive products from our lifestyle thus decreasing the amount of harmful chemicals released into the environment. In doing so, it also seeks to create income streams for communities living in and around forest areas in India, preventing deforestation by offering a more sustainable source of income. We have developed a range of soapnut-based products, that benefit from the exceptional cleaning properties of a Sapindaceae berry- commonly known as a soapnut - that grows in the Himalayas and forests in peninsular India. High saponin content in soapnuts makes them a natural detergent that has been used by the natives of the Himalayas for millennia. They are gentle on the clothes and skin, and are also known to have healing properties. Soapnut trees do not require organized plantations, they grow in abundance among other trees in wild forests. There are places where soapnuts are simply left to rot in the absence of market linkage. We sustainably collect pure and organic soapnuts in order to use them in replacing harmful chemicals associated with conventional detergents.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
We sustainably produce natural detergents made of soapnuts (Sapindaceae berry) that provide a natural alternative to chemical-intensive products, thus decreasing the amount of harmful chemicals released into the environment and enabling the reuse of "grey water". We also create income streams for communities living in and around forest areas in India, preventing deforestation by offering a more sustainable source of income. The environmental problem and our solution: High saponine content in soapnuts makes them a natural detergent that has been used by the natives of the Himalayas for millennia. We have built three women coops, with 36 members in the Himalayas, who sustainably collect pure and organic soapnuts. Every packet of BubbleNut Wash is a step toward to a cleaner planet.
Sustainability and future plans
Our business is sustainable because soapnuts naturally grow in abundance, there is a high labour availability in these areas and the demand for chemical free house products is steadily growing in the UK . We have full control of our supply and production chain. As a social enterprise, we guarantee fair prices to the women coops upfront, that enables them to plan their household in advance. In a province where 7 million people live below the poverty line, our coops effectively double the annual income of our workers, enabling them to feed their families through the lean periods. Moreover, by helping local communities to get a sustainable income from the soapnuts, our social enterprise prevents the trees from being cut and sold as wood during the low farming season. We are currently selling around 1000 units a month in India at $ 2.00 per pack, this enables BubbleNut Wash India to already break even and to finance the operations on the ground. After a thorough UK market research we have decided to target the UK premium market, and while we have build a strong community of followers who are buying our product online at £ 7.00 per pack, we need to raise investments in order to enter supermarkets. With conservative estimates of the cost per unit and reasonable investments in marketing and other associated cost we should be able to break even in year 3. As such, our pricing strategy is build upon the financial sustainability that we already achieved in the Indian market. The experience gained in the Indian market allows us to have strong evidence that we can achieve financial sustainability in 2 years.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I am a social environmental scientist specialised in communication for sustainable development. I hold a Masters in Media and International Development from the University of East Anglia, a postgraduate degree in International Development from Pompeu Fabra University and a bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Barcelona. I am a co-founder of a sustainable development NGO called Permact (www.permact.org) and co-creator of www.bubblenutwash.com. I have worked in research and communications in the environmental and development fields for five years in both the public and private sector.