Hilfswerk International

Hilfswerk International

Empowering People: Thinking outside the (soap) box

How might we transform development projects into stable social business that market sustainable products and create income for the socially vulnerable by the end of 2021?

Development cooperation projects are often financially not sustainable. After the project ends and the funding institutions like EU do not provide further funds and project activities have to be stopped. A self-sustaining financing mechanism is missing. This fact is reducing sustainability of development cooperation projects.

The idea is to create small social enterprises out of development cooperation projects to secure ongoing project activities even after the official projects end. 

We aim to work towards a working business plan for an established pilot social business in Lebanon, to produce soaps (e.g. made from olive oil) in Lebanon by Syrian refugee women.

The outcome should be a working business model pilot that works for profit and is socially and environmentally fair and sustainable.

We have established groups of experts during the past decades all over the world; we have access to these people as we have been working with them closely.

We know how to produce socially compatible clothes/bags (Lebanon), dried fruit (Central Asia), Moringa products (Mozambique), rubber (Colombia) or soap made of olive oil (Lebanon / Syria), and these productions would bring a huge social benefit.

We know e.g. that a group of Syrian refugee women in Lebanon can easily produce 1000 pieces of environmentally and socially compatible soaps a month and with the so generated income their lives will be long-lastingly and positively impacted.

If we do not find a solution soon to the challenge posed, smaller NGOs in development cooperation will struggle more and more with financing their projects and programs.

Additionally, development projects will not fully unfold their strengths and opportunities to empower people but will leave them dependent on alms, there will be more and more missed opportunities.

In terms of Output:
We would like to see soaps (e.g. made from olive oil) produced in Lebanon by Syrian refugee women. A measurable output would not only be the successfully produced and commercialized soaps but also the creation of at least 10 jobs that support 10 families beyond the funding period.

In terms of Outcome:
The process of establishing a pilot social enterprise including a business plan was accompanied by experts from begin with, the founding expertise included in each step.

We are looking for help by founding experts to accompany the establishment of a pilot social enterprise that produces soap (e.g. made of olive oil) made by Syrian refugees in Lebanon and will be financially self-sustaining after an initial funding phase.

The outcome should be a working business model that works for profit and is socially and environmentally fair and sustainable.

The aim is to start a social start up in Lebanon and create added value. A joint venture with an Austrian partner could be very useful in terms of procurement, distribution channels, marketing and funds. This partnership could help Austrian start-ups to show social responsibility and create serious credibility.

We at Hilfswerk International believe that this kind of social enterprises will be the future of development cooperation. We can assure a high motivation and internal agreement on this vision.

Internal stakeholders:

  • Hilfswerk International Circle 17 Team (with positions in finance and communications)
  • Hilfswerk International Managing Director
  • Hilfswerk International team in Lebanon
  • Hilfswerk International board

External Stakeholders

  • Austrian companies in the areas of…
  • branch knowledge (cosmetics, tourism, international trade, value chains)
  • distribution channels
  • financing
  • strategic partnership to use network and lobby to find sponsoring
  • Purchasers
  • B2B / B2C
  • Resource managers
  • to evaluate the effectiveness in terms of social and environmental outcomes
  • Other Sponsors

Hilfswerk International

Hilfswerk International is an Austrian organization which provides disaster relief, reconstruction and effective development cooperation around the world. Our focus is on the people, their health, the improvement of their living conditions and the promotion of families - and especially children.