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

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