Monday, March 24, 2008

Canabelle Soap Co-op has a New Home

We have had some huge success and progress for one of main projects Canabelle Soap.

First we have successfully renovated the old Church enough that the building is now secure and has power.

Secondly Canabelle Soap has moved in and they have built their own office and production room.

Thirdly Canabelle has their own Computer, heavy duty printer, heavy blender and grinder.

Canabelle receiving the blender and grinder.

The ladies thanking Bonnie and Connie and their friends.

The new PC and you can just make out the new printer in the left corner.

Fourthly Hallie has been able to secure a meeting with Magic Coconut Oil to discuss purchasing oil in bulk to dramatically cut down on soap making costs.

Here is the President Deterville talking about the progress we have made.

We have a meeting on April 3rd with the Catholic Church, the local community group and the Basic Needs Trust Fund to look at the way forward for Canabelle and the old church building.

Missing Marcella

Here are some pics of my fiancee Marcella. She is in England for 3 months, I will be visiting her in about 3 weeks to spend a month or so with her. I miss her and I wanted to throw some pictures up.

Balembouche Estate

Tina Carol and Marcy at Ladera

Micoud Beach

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rabbit Project is moving forward.

Its been a while since I have provided an update on the Rabbit Project. The project stalled out for a while because I was unable to successfully raise newborn rabbits in the village. When they were born the mother would abandon them or kill them. I tried many things over the past 6-8 months as my costs in the project for rabbit feed continued to mount. My patience was exhausted at this point and I was arranging to give the hutch away and abandon the project. It was growing consensus that you cannot raise rabbits in the village because there is to much noise and stress ranging from children and cats to barking dogs. That is why the mothers were abandoning their babies.

Thankfully a young man named McClain came over to visit Marcie, he took a look at my rabbits as I told him my woes. When I pointed out the neighbors dog 15 feet away that barked continuously every night he suggested we move the entire hutch to the other side of the house as far away as possible from the dog, with my little yard that was only about 10ft. Little did I know that 10ft would made ALL the difference, my next litter of bunnies survived. I was ecstatic, I have had two more sets of rabbits born since with a rabbit from the first litter just giving birth to 10 babies of her own this week.

So the project is back on, I am currently working with a family from Anse La Verdue just above Canaries. The Canaries Community Club has identified this family as one of the poorest and most in need. The mothers husband died and she is raising 5 children with one of them being pregnant. She is Rastafarian so her diet is limited to starches and what can be gathered in the local area, they have no power and the house is the equivalent of a large wooden tool shed. One of her older sons Ison who is not a vegetarian is going to participate in the project to help earn some money for his family by selling the rabbits to other families and the Creole Pot food vendors. He is very passionate about learning this trade and he is quick to catch on and very intelligent. I have had him work with me caring for my rabbits to pass on the skills and I have taken him to Sebastian's farm to see a superior rabbit raising operation.

Below are some videos of Sebastian's farm and operation.

The farm and hutches:

Details on the Hutch designs:

Sebastian of Canaries, St. Lucia has the best hutch design I have seen on the island. The hutches are the proper size allowing free movement for the animals. He uses a heavy gauge wire that the rabbits cannot pull free compared to chicken wire. The hutch support beams are made of plastic or wrapped in metal to prevent rats. He also uses wire to attach the fresh veggies higher up so the rabbits get exercise. I would like to see how bamboo could be used to make hutches since it is an abundant free building material. I guess that is for the next Peace Corps volunteer.

Back to Ison; I am going to provide him the wire which is the most expensive cost for building a hutch, this wire was purchased with donations from friends and family back in the States along with the materials used to build the first rabbit hutch. I am going to give him a male and a female rabbit and Sebastian is going to give one of his rabbits to start this young mans business. As we speak I am writing fund raising letters to some of the Canaries leaders to raise some more funding for his starting feed costs(38EC per 50pd bag) and some 2x2 wood for the hutch frame. His family lives in the ideal spot for raising rabbits, they live in a quite area with lots of local plants that can be fed to rabbits. With a diet of old bread, banana leaves and other local veg and some fortified (special grain mix that contains extra vitamins and nutrients) you can raise healthy large rabbits with low costs.

One of the agreements is that after his operation is going if another family whats to start a project he will donate two rabbits to them for free and train them to continue the opportunity for other Saint Lucian's. This is modeled after the original heifer project that started in Saint Lucia 50 years ago with the first Peace Corps arriving and teaching farming skills. Cattle and animals were donated by churches in the US and Peace Corps volunteers trained local farmers making the same agreement of them giving the first calf to another farmer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Freedom Sandals

Another lovely story from my friend and guest writer Laura.

Freedom Sandals


Laura Adkins

Sometimes it can take a while to know how a story ends or, in this case, lives on. It started with my lunge for freedom.

I sat on the wooden parquet floor, leaning against the front door. It was my new apartment, with emphasis on “my.” It was a first floor garden view apartment, but the view was actually of the parking lot. I finished waxing the worn floor with furniture polish at 1 am, unaware of how slippery furniture polish is, when you walk on it. My shiny floor ended with me on my rear end and a close up view of my work. But, I laughed at my foible, intoxicated with my new found freedom and poverty; a woman alone, a lone woman. It was all good.

I had just ended a two year affair with a film maker, moving out of his home while he was working in Central America. He was a kind, but sullen man, who said he loved me, but our bargain remained that I would pay his bills and manage his money while he was away, which was nearly 75 % of the time. In exchange for these services, I would live rent free. While he passive-aggressively agreed with my decision to leave, finding the right time for him was impossible. I had to make the right moment. I grabbed my daughters belongings, two suitcases, two avocado trees I had started from seed, a record player, and although it was November, I wore a pair of Indian sandals, which were deemed my “freedom sandals” by my soon-to-be new roommates.

My big plan was to stop working for the first time since I was 16 and go to college. I now realized how much more I wanted in my life for my four year old daughter and myself. My plan meant I had to go on welfare and use food stamps. Nearly all of my friends were already college graduates, they had been married and divorced, had careers, bought and sold their first home, and not one had ever seen food stamps, nor had first hand knowledge of the welfare system.

It wasn’t that I was late in achieving these milestones, I was just achieving them in a different order. I was starting college at 27, had already been married in Las Vegas at 22, and divorced in a matter of months. I also had a child and at least 10 jobs and no career, and I had never owned a home. It was exactly this dissimilar history that allowed me to share my new, two bedroom apartment with my successful, divorcing friends. The wife, a friend since I was 12, would stay in the other bedroom one week, and the husband the next. The other would stay in their home with their child. Supposedly, the one living with me would have nothing but fun, which spoke to their own experience in college, not the one I was about to start.

Eventually I realized that her idea of “going it alone,” was not similar to my journey of self-discovery. Their divorce stayed on schedule, but their democratic plan to board with me only lasted through November. The holidays provided detours to their plan, and we amicably drifted apart as we each pursued our own goals.

I really was alone now with my daughter and my plan, living just inside the beltway near Washington, DC, in a Virginia suburb. There was no family interested in my life, no one to turn to, and no one to help. I looked across the living room of my nearly empty apartment; a love seat, the phonograph on the floor, a fish tank with gold fish, a phone, and a second doorway to the central hallway of the building. To me, it was lovely, even if we were alone.

I selected my apartment complex because it was within walking distance of the community college I wanted to attend. In fact, it is the very same college where Mrs. Joe Biden now teaches. I gradually learned there were a few other students in the building. I also became aware of the odd couple who lived next door to me, simply because they tried to be so invisible.

The girl was tall and thin, with long blond hair, and I never heard her speak. Her partner was a man at least twice her age, perhaps forty. His dyed black hair was shoulder length, and his thin form was broad at the shoulders. We occasionally passed each other when going to the parking lot, or at the hallway mailboxes, but we never spoke. The man was always with her, silent in his directive to keep walking, don’t speak, and don’t look up. While it wasn’t unusual to hear people in the hallway and going to the laundry room, their apartment was quiet. I imagined that their living room must be dark, since their windows were exactly like mine, but the drapes were always drawn.

It was soon December, and the new spring quarter didn’t start until march. I passed the frozen, Virginia winter months preparing for college; studying the lists of courses, finding daycare for my daughter, and learning how to use food stamps with minimal embarrassment. Without a car, I carefully scheduled any buying, getting, and taking of stuff to coincide with the occasional visits of my departed roommates. I also carefully chose my first classes, trying to leverage any knowledge I had learned in the real world, hoping to improve my chances at getting better grades. I had to succeed, there was no going backwards.

I became familiar with the faces of my neighbors, and as the holidays passed, and February came and left, I realized that I had seen little of the young woman next door. The man seems to come and go on a regular schedule, and I imagined that he worked and she was no longer there. Then, one bright day in March she appeared, quietly walking ahead of him to their car. I had just returned from registering for my first college class, “Comparative Religions,” and wondered if she was taking classes, too. It was, after all, the most exciting decade of the century; the beginning of “women’s liberation,” civil rights demonstrations, and the height of the anti-war movement.

I saw her again the following week as I returned home from class. She was opening her front door, when suddenly she was jerked back into her doorway from behind. The image haunted me for a few days. I imagined what would Gloria Steinum say, or do? I waited to hear something at night, but no disturbances or other clues to her existence appeared. Just as I decided to introduce myself the next time I saw them, I literally bumped into her leaving the laundry room, with the sullen man behind her. I was so surprised that I said nothing. After that, I would see little of her, usually leaving and returning with him in their car.

March became July, and although I thought about the young woman from time to time, I was distracted with my own life, my daughter, and the joy of attending college. A bigger surprise was that I was dating again and the man was a card carrying member of NOW. I was also awakening to all the rich possibilities that could be available to me with an education. I had written my first “A” paper for my “Comparative Religions” class, entitled “The Changing Roles of Women in Christianity.” I had read 23 books to write the paper. I became aware of parallels between the women I was reading about and my own new life; women seeking their own lives, and each had their own kind of freedom sandals. Filled with self-congratulatory pride, I was framing my paper to hang on the wall, when a quiet, but constant knock came to my screen door.

Looking at me through the door was the blond girl. She begged urgently and quietly, “please may I come in? May I? Can you hide me? Please?” She quickly came in and said “hide me, he mustn’t find me.” Within seconds, I had opened the door and we were standing in my bathroom, where she stepped into the tub. I closed the bathroom door behind us, as my daughter played with the running water from the faucet.

“I have an airplane ticket home…waiting for me at American Airlines at National Airport. Can you take me to the airport? You have a car, I can pay you. I don’t have to leave until tonight, but if you let me stay until 8, we can run to the car when it gets dark.” I was stunned silent by a woman declaring her freedom plan. “She’s running for her life,” I thought. I didn’t ask questions. We just looked at each other.

“Yes, alright, I can do that.” Something my mother would never have said, but Steinum would. “Then we should leave as soon as it’s dark?” I asked. “Shortly after 8 pm, but he’ll be looking for me, so I just need to wait here….in your shower,” she nearly whispered. “But, he also might see me, or us, and try to stop us.” We said nothing after that. I know we were each wondered what being caught would mean. Would she win? Would I help?

I left the bathroom and she locked the door from within. I began to hang the framed paper again. I was fixing dinner for my daughter when the man came to my door. I walked to the door in my freedom sandals and opened the door calmly, wiping my hands on the dishcloth, and smiled.

“Hey, hi, I live next door, have you seen the girl I live with? She isn’t home, did you see her leave?” he asked. Telling the truth, I answered, “no,” and I leaned toward the door as if looking out to the parking lot. He turned to look also, and we were both quiet. He then said, “Okay, well let me know if you see her today.” I mumbled, “uh huh.”

I closed the door and sat down between the avocado trees on the floor to watch the sun go down. Within 30 minutes he left in his car. surprised, I jumped to my feet, running to the bathroom door to tell her he has left in his car, and we should make a run for it now! With my daughter’s hand in mine, I stood with the blond at the front door in the dark.

“I’ll go first with my daughter to the car, and we’ll pull up to the building, then you get in the back seat and lie down on the floor,” I said. From the parking space to the door was the longest drive in my life. she seemed to walk in slow motion to the car. On the way to the airport, I learned very little about her. She talked about her phone call to her father, and how it took months to find the time to call. “I was never out of his sight,” she whispered. “He always, he always…..” she didn’t finish her sentence. “He” didn’t have a name.

She now sat pensively in the back seat as we pulled up to the airline curb and she got out of the back seat. She turned around to thank me through the passenger side window. She had no luggage and no shoes. “I have to have shoes, I can’t go on the plane without shoes,” she said looking down at my feet, at my freedom sandals.

I reached down and removed my shoes, explaining that I really want them back, but I knew I may never see them again, my $4.00 shoes. I didn’t know her name and I didn’t know where she is going, but I gave her my shoes through the window. She tried to give me money for gas and the shoes, but I told her, “No, I just want my freedom sandals back.”

“Freedom sandals?” she asked, glancing over her shoulder nervously. I told that I, too, once had to leave in a hurry, and they were the only shoes I had when I left. “Now they’re your freedom sandals.” My daughter echoed, “freedom,” and together we watched her disappear through the door of the airport terminal. As I drove back to the apartment, my mind jumped back and forth from thinking about the man I would continue to live next door too, and my hope that my daughter would never need freedom sandals.

Perhaps two weeks later, a narrow, brown package was wedged into my mailbox. As I tugged it outward, it flipped to the hallway floor. In that second, my remaining mysterious neighbor appeared for his mail. He gallantly bent down, scooping up package that held the last, tiny detail to his demise. Our eyes did not meet, but I thanked him with a nod of my head as he handed me the keys to her freedom.

He moved in early fall, I started my 3rd quarter, and the shoes began to show their $4.00 price tag at the end of summer. I tucked them away with my summer clothes and lost track of them.

35 years have passed, and I recently shared the story of the freedom sandals with a student I know, who was in an abusive relationship. Not only did she leave the relationship for her own new life, but, she read the story of the freedom sandals to her “Women’s Studies” class in her freshman year. The karma of the shoes lives on. Sometimes it can take a while to know how a story ends or, in this case, lives on.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Taking Time off from my Peace Corps Projects to hang out with my Aunty

My Auntie Tina is down again for another round of vacation as she rests from the off season of landscaping. I am taking some time off my projects to spend time with my Aunt to explore beautiful Saint Lucia. If you would like to read about my work you can scroll through the blog or search using a keyword, it also has a chronological history on the side.

Last year she came down with my Aunty Cass and they lived in Soufriere for about 3 months with friends and family coming to visit. This time Tina braved the wilds of St. Lucia and came down by herself with friends and family coming in for visits for 1-2 weeks at a time.

Once again we are out exploring Saint Lucia from a perspective of someone with in a VEHICLE mainly! Peace Corps policy forbids the driving of boats, cars, basically anything with a combustion engine. Why? They say liability issues, personally I think it keeps us in our villages so we actually do our work, otherwise we would likely be making party trips to Castries every weekend.

So its time to post some videos and pics of the good times were having.

video of Zi playing on the beach.

Frostbite Cure

Pic at the Piton Heritage Site

Carol and Tina at Ladera for a gorgeous sunset and cocktails!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Canabelle Womens Soap Cooperative Development Plan

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Here is the finished developed plan for Canabelle Soap, it has taken
many months and it has been a collaborative effort with Canabelle
Soap, US Peace Corps volunteers Hailey and myself, Canaries Community Club and funding

It is short, sweet and to the point and it would be a major step
forward in ending Canaries' chronic problem of suffering the highest
unemployment rate on the island. When looking at just unemployed women
in Canaries, the rate is staggering at 50.3%. This is double the
national average of 25%.

I am sending this to all interested parties. We are looking at
tentatively scheduling a meeting for all stakeholders in late April,
we will keep you posted. Let us know any of your thoughts and
feedback on the plan and please pass it on to any other interested
parties. It did not translate perfectly from WORD into the Blog, highlight the figure boxes to be able to read them. If you would like a copy in WORD send me an email.

Canabelle Women’s Soap Cooperative

Development Plan

Developed by Members of the Canabelle Soap Cooperative and Canaries Peace Corps Volunteers Lee Klejnot and Hailey Thompson.

8th of March, 2008

Proposal Outline

  1. Introduction and History Pg. 2
  2. Background to the Project Pg. 2
  3. Project Objectives Pg. 3

4. Production Costs and Profit Margins Pg. 5

5. Business Plan Pg. 6

6. Total Funding Request Pg. 6

7. Project Monitoring Pg. 6

8. Conclusion Pg. 7

9. Appendix Pg. 8

1. Introduction and History

Canabelle Women’s Soap Cooperative found its beginning eight years ago when the government of Saint Lucia invested considerable time and money towards training demographically single unemployed mothers in the poorest villages on the island. Work shops taught craft making and small business skills to women, helping them provide their own income to help end the cycle of poverty. This intensive training focused primarily on basketry and natural soap manufacturing. The legacy of this training in Canaries is the women’s soap cooperative called Canabelle Soap that produces various beautiful natural soap products that are sold on a small scale in the tourist’s shops, hotels and pharmacies on the island.

This proposal provides a development plan for the Co-op to provide more economic and social benefits particularly for women and their families. This development plan would be a major step forward in ending Canaries’ chronic problem of suffering the highest unemployment rate on the island. Canaries Village currently has an unemployment rate of 30.6% for men and women combined which is the highest in Saint Lucia. When looking at just unemployed women, the rate is staggering at 50.3%. This is double the national average of 25%. This data is from the Saint Lucia Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action plan from the Ministry of Social Transformation.

The Canaries Women’s Soap Co-op needs to address the following issues in order to expand and grow to provide more employment opportunities for Saint Lucian women.

  • Infrastructure improvements including specific equipment purchases for the soap manufacturing process.
  • Further training in soap making to improve products offered and the quality.
  • Expansion of products produced.
  • Assistance in Accounting and Book keeping focusing on developing the Co-op model of shared costs, work, and profit.
  • Licensing from the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards in order to begin exporting.
  • Reduction in raw material requisition costs.
  • Development of a comprehensive marketing and business plan to expand the business and provide more employment opportunities for other women.

2. Background to the Project

Canabelle soap is a local Co-op that produces natural soap products made from cinnamon, nutmeg, tea tree and mint, glory cedar, aloe, cucumber, sulphur, and oatmeal just to give a few examples. The cottage industry provides income and employment for eight to ten generally single mothers. Canabelle product is already featured in almost every craft and gift shop on the island including M&C Pharmacy, Clark’s Pharmacy, Alexis Pharmacy, Pharmacy 2000, Choiseul Craft Market and the Debbie’s Gift shop in Soufriere along with a few hotels such as Ti Kaye, Almond, and Ladera. The Cooperative is licensed and recognized through the Co-operatives Department of the Ministry of Community Development. Production is limited because of their lack of a facility and infrastructure needs. Providing a permanent building for Canabelle Soap to expand and receive national licensing has been one of the largest hurdles for the group. Canabelle has long been looking for a facility and it has tried to purchase land. However, with the limited amount of land and space available in Canaries has not proved possible in an economically feasible way. This hurdle has been successfully passed with the continued restoration work of the old Church in Canaries. We are happy to announce that Canabelle has already moved into their new facilities where they have 24 hour access, a small private secured office and a large room for drying and storage, and upon completion of the old church Canabelle would have sole use of the upstairs level for production and manufacturing of their products. Canabelle would have the facility for ten years rent free in order to build up capitol to expand this cottage industry. This information is available in the Old Church Development Plan which is available upon request. The old Church would also act as distribution point for the soap allowing shops and hotels to replenish their supplies during normal business hours.

3. Project Objectives

3.1 Objective 1 Infrastructure

In order for Canabelle to produce soap in profitable consistent quantities and to market their product to local Saint Lucia hotel industry some specific equipment is needed. Important infrastructure needed is a new commercial grade mixer and grinder for the extracting and mixing of the natural ingredients they use. Proper and sturdy molds are also a necessity; the current molds are antiquated with a new design based on Coal Pot Soap in Dominica available that would reduce cutting by half and improve the soaps shape and consistency. Canabelle also requires more drying racks for the soaps to cool after being poured into the molds. Cutting the dense batches of soap can be a challenge, so the purchase of a heavy-duty cutter would be extremely beneficial.

Recently a US women’s craft group has made a donation of a regular blender, goggles, and safety gloves after hearing about Canabelle and wanting to support their work. In addition a heavy-duty color printer was purchased and sent down thanks to fundraising by the US women’s craft group. A computer was also given by the Community Development Officer, under the Ministry of Social Transformation. With these improvements Canabelle’s office and printing needs have been met. Below is the list of current infrastructure needs:

Infrastructure needed

Price per unit

Number needed

Cost (EC$)

Commercial Mixer (Kitchen Aid)




Commercial Soap Cutter




Drying Racks




Soap Molds




Additional Gloves




Additional Goggles








Billboard Signs For Canaries (metal posts)




Commercial Paper Cutter




Total Infrastructure Costs:


3.2 Objective 2 Training

The Canabelle soap product is amazing but the group needs further training in soap making. Canabelle needs help in making the soap bars slightly harder so they are longer lasting. They need assistance in developing a smaller soap bar and packaging that can be marketed for the hotels to provide to their guests will be major goal for the co-op. Continued work in developing a wider range of soaps and products is the long term vision of the group. This will be mainly accomplished through the assistance of Mrs. Avriel James, the Managing Director of the Dominica Natural Soap company called the Coal Pot. This group has been in existence for six years and was in fact started as training program for young women with the assistance of two Peace Corps volunteers. The Coal Pot is successfully exporting their soap to many islands including St. Lucia. They use an improved formula that allows the soap to last much longer and uses natural fragrance, something that could be featured in some of Canabelle’s soap. They are also successfully marketing a smaller soap to the hotels and establishments on the island, which is one of Canabelle’s long term goals for sustainability and growth. The Coal Pot’s soaps are packaged in a sturdy box’s that are 100% biodegradable and the labeling is printed on recycled paper which could serve as a model for an economically and environmentally friendly version for Canabelle’s packaging. With Mrs. James expertise and knowledge of soap production using Caribbean ingredients and marketing in the EC, her assistance to Canabelle could materialize these goals. Canabelle would open up the training to 8 to 10 more local women, so as their business grows they would have trained potential Co-op members. Below is a list of the costs for training:

Budget for Training with Mrs. Avriel James

Price per unit

Cost (EC$)

Flight round trip from Dominica


Consulting fee per day (3 days)



Housing (3 nights)



Taxi to Airport (2 trips)



Daily Taxi Transportation to Canaries (3 days)



Sample Soaps and Supplies


Training Materials and Printing


Refreshments and Catering for Training (3 days)



Total Cost for Training:


3.3 Objective 3 Products

With infrastructure improvements and additional training Canabelle will be able to produce additional types and scents of soaps, longer lasting bars, and a variety of smaller versions to be available for hotel guests. Also with their basketry skills, gift baskets full of soap products could be produced and marketed at the Craft Market in the Old Church, pharmacies, and hotels. In keeping with their earth friendly natural soaps, Canabelle could purchase biodegradable material and recycled paper for the packaging of their soaps.

3.4 Objective 4 Accounting

Canabelle’s accounting, under the development plan, will include some finance and accounting reforms. Namely Canabelle will be using Celestin Laurent a Business Development Manager with the Bank of St. Lucia who has volunteered to act as an outside accountant. Canabelle’s account will require a two-signature minimum for any withdrawals. The group will switch to an open bill and check only policy with a maximum of $2000 EC being allowed for petty cash. All of these steps are being taken to increase transparency and accountability. Further work will be carried out to developing the mechanisms of the Co-op so that members receive fair and equal dividends from the profits of Canabelle. A local Canarian community leader who is also an accountant with the First Caribbean Bank and President of Canaries Community Club, Edsel Edmund, will also be assisting by providing time to help train the Co-op in successful accounting practices.

For documentation purposes all receipts, account balance sheets, pictures of infrastructure, all purchases and training sessions will be provided to funding agencies.

3.5 Objective 5 Licensing and Facilities

Up until now Canabelle has not been able to pursue a national license through the Bureau of Standards in Saint Lucia due to the lack of a facility. Now with the Co-op being housed in the old Catholic Church through an agreement with the Catholic Archdiocese they have overcome the building issue and can now work on building infrastructure. After the operation is turning a profit and members are receiving dividends, a percentage will be set aside during the next 10 years of free rent to build their own building. A set of architectural drawings for the future building are available upon request.

3.6 Objective 6 Wholesale Pricing of Main Ingredients

Canabelle plans to work directly with producers of the major natural ingredients they use, to create wholesale prices for reducing costs and increasing profitability. The Co-op is in communication with the Magic Coconut Oil Company in Soufriere to work out some wholesale pricing advantages. Once soap production is up and going there is the option of taking advantage of Canaries Valley fertile land by growing ingredients for themselves, such as cucumber, banana, ginger, lemon, orange, cinnamon, aloe, and many others. Canabelle would be able to help support the local economy by purchasing locally grown ingredients from Canarian farmers as they begin focusing on more organic farming as they supply Canabelle Soap its ingredients.

3.7 Objective 7 Expansion of the Tourism Market for Canaries

Currently Canaries receives most of its tourists through the Creole Pot Street Party, the Waterfall Tours and visiting family members. Canabelle’s natural soap making process is a natural tourist attraction that needs to be developed in order to attract visitors and provide them a venue and starting point to explore the village. It will also fulfill two of the Ministry of Tourisms goals by increasing village tourism and a providing an interactive tourism experience demonstrating the natural soap making process.

With Canabelle being housed in the upstairs of the old church craft market, their business would work nicely with the biweekly Saturday street party, Creole Pot, by providing a venue in the evening for Crafts and Gifts to be sold to tourists. It would provide a stopping point for the Canaries Waterfall Tours and Guest house visitors. It would serve as a venue for Canabelle Soap to be able to demonstrate how the soap products are made, as well as a selling and distribution point. It would attract some of the heavy tourist traffic because of our geographical advantage of being located on the route from Castries to Soufriere.

3.8 Exporting and Marketing

With Canabelle being located in Canaries they have the advantage of having the help of the Canaries UK Association, who have already provided one thousand pounds in the past specifically for Canabelle not to mention the thousands of pounds they have given through the years to help develop the village. The UK association has also agreed to assist in marketing Canabelle soaps to local shops and hotels in England. The US women’s craft group has also volunteered to help in marketing the soaps to shops in the US as well as the other donations they have provided.

The Co-op can also market to hotels and shops on neighboring Islands. With the tourism industry booming all over the Eastern Caribbean, this would be a great outlet for their smaller soap versions and baskets of soaps. Canabelle already has a demonstrated market and demand in Saint Lucia through the island Craft Shops, pharmacies and vendors. The challenge is to receive funding to expand production capabilities and improve the product to meet the already existing demand and expand to other markets.

5. Production Costs and Profit Margins

Below is the typical costs of producing one batch of soap, costs between different ingredients only differ by a few cents with most natural ingredients being collected from the Canaries rainforest.

A 9 lb Batch of Regular Soap Produces 42 Bars of Soap

Soap Production Ingredients

Soybean Oil

1 bottle – 37 oz


Coconut Oil

3 bottles – 88.4 oz


Sunflower Oil

1 bottle – 15 oz


Olive Oil

2 oz (of 10 oz bottle)



22.4 oz (of 55 lb bag)


Cost per batch:


Cost per bar:


Packaging Costs

Printing Costs Per Ink Cartridge

1420 pages per cartridge, cost per bar


Packaging Material Heavy Paper

500 boxes per ream


Other packaging costs (glue/ribbon)


Cost per batch:


Total Printing and Packaging Costs

Cost per bar:


Total Costs and Profits Per Bar ( Includes Ingredients & Packaging)

Total Cost per boxed bar of soap:


Selling price of bar of soap:


Total Profit per bar:


Percentage of profit per bar:


Total Costs and Profits Per Batch (Includes Ingredients & Packaging)

Total Cost per batch:


Selling Price per batch


Total Profit per batch


Percentage of profit per batch:


Canabelle currently sells each bar of soap for $6.00. For each batch of soap they make and sell, Canabelle makes $182.38 If Canabelle could produce and sell eleven 9 lb. batches of soap a month enough profit would be made to pay 10 Co-op members $200 each. For the 10 employees to make $500 a month, Canabelle would produce and sell 27 batches of soap per month. With the training and infrastructure purchases outlined in this proposal made Canabelle will be able to meet this goal and continue to expand to meet the needs of its members.

4. Canabelle Business Plan

The purpose behind training, infrastructure improvement, formula improvement and a product specifically for the hotels is to increase the production of Canabelle to a point where members are able to receive consistent shares or income with the ultimate goal of expanding in order to offer more employment possibilities. The business plan of the cooperative can be covered quickly by reviewing the group’s development objectives 3.1 through 3.8. These key steps are required to take Canabelle to the next level where its members can truly receive benefits and further employment opportunities can be offered for Canaries women. The following steps need to be taken:

· Training from Avriel James to improve the product and receive training in producing smaller soaps that can be marketed to the hotels.

· Infrastructure purchases to increase Canabelle’s production capacity.

· Apply for licensing from the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards to begin exporting.

· Outside independent accountant Celestin Laurent through the Bank of St. Lucia.

· Increase production and sales to offer more financial benefits to members.

· Expand membership through training and increased production and soap demand.

· Market smaller sample soaps for the hotels to provide to their guests to increase monthly production.

· Further reduce materials costs through bulk purchasing.

6. Total Funding Request

The total funding request is small but in a village with 53% unemployment for its women the reality is support must come from outside agencies to help end the cycle of poverty. We must give the mother and daughters of Canaries an opportunity for not only employment but an opportunity to work for themselves as entrepreneurs instead of indentured servants.

Total Funding Request

Cost (EC$)





Total Funding Request


7. Project Monitoring

The Cooperative structure of Canabelle constitutes of a board of management and Co-op members. The board of management comprises of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Trustee and will include outside independent accountant Celestin Laurent for accountability purposes. The group also has the backing and participation of the Canaries Community Club, local banker Edsel Edmund, and the Canaries Peace Corps Volunteers Lee Klejnot and Hailey Thompson

8. Conclusion

Canarians are developing this critical economic and social activity center at the Old Church for Canabelle Women’s Soap Cooperative as well as other organizations to stimulate the community by creating jobs, reducing poverty, and creating a local tourism market. With the unemployment rate of women in Canaries being at 50.3% (double the national average), support for this Co-op will help lower this rate. The Canaries area also has the highest rate of poverty at 44.9%, leaving people with very few opportunities. The Canabelle Co-op has the potential to open up opportunities to the people of Canaries and boost the local economy.

The Canaries Institutional and Strengthening Committee have quoted Canabelle in their Strategic Development Plan as a positive initiative. In recent times the community has seen some initiatives started by residents aimed at creating more income earning opportunities particularly for women. One example is the Canabelle Soap Making Cooperative which is involved in the production of soap from local materials” (Strategic Development Plan for Canaries 2008-2018, pg 8).

With buses of potential tourists coming through Canaries each day either on their way to the Canaries waterfall or to Soufriere Canabelle must capitalize on this by selling their local, natural product. Tourists are always looking for that special product to take home to share with their friends and family. They are looking for a way to try to share the experience of Saint Lucia. This is tried by taking local spiced rum, conch shells and other items that often leak in the luggage or can be confiscated in customs. Canabelle Soap is the perfect product to fill this niche where the worst that can happen is the tourist’s cloths will come out of their luggage smelling fresh.

Help develop Canabelle Soap to provide needed leverage to promote Canaries on the mental and social map of Saint Lucia to continue to improve the life of its residents. Please support this much needed rehabilitation of the Canaries village.

We thank you for considering our proposal and look forward to working with you to develop OUR beautiful village together.

9. Appendix

1. Canabelle Soap Making Process Videos

2. Coal Pot Soap Website

3. More info on Coal Pot Soap

Contact Information:

Canabelle Soap

Gregory Deterville


Canaries Peace Corps Volunteers

Lee Klejnot


Hailey Thompson


Canaries Community Club

Edsel Edmund


Canaries Community Develop Officer

Mahal Jahto

758- 718-4252