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When a Simple Soap Becomes Environmentally Friendly

When a Simple Soap Becomes Environmentally Friendly

YAKOKO is a brand of organic soap, free from heavy metals, petroleum derivatives and man-made substances. It is made from natural ingredients or those grown without pesticides, manure or synthetic fertilisers. YAKOKO is environmentally and socially sustainable.

YAKOKO means “made from coconut” in Xichangana, the language spoken in the south of the country. It is a Mozambican brand of 100% natural and organic coconut-based skin care soaps that have a substantial impact on the communities they come from, helping to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions. YAKOKO’s journey began in 2017 as a school project by a young student, an initiative in practical classes to make homemade soaps that quickly turned into a thriving business, fuelled by passion and guided by sustainability principles. YAKOKO soaps are handmade with locally sourced ingredients, based on coconut oil (among other essential oils) and botanical extracts, carefully selected for their purity and sustainability.

YAKOKO soap bars are gentle on the skin and are generally recommended for sensitive skin or when allergic to certain substances. They are also biodegradable and environmentally friendly. YAKOKO was born eight years ago, employs ten workers and operates with a network of more than 70 retail partners to reach a wider audience. The brand’s soaps can be found all over the country in convenience stores, supermarkets, gift shops and private retailers.

YAKOKO soaps are handmade with locally sourced ingredients, based on coconut oil and botanical extracts, selected for their purity and sustainability

Beyond soaps, YAKOKO is committed to sustainability and community empowerment. The company creates partnerships with local farmers, co-operatives and small-scale producers, who share the same values of ethical sourcing and environmental stewardship. In 2018, the company began its social sustainability journey when it started collaborating with WATER FOR WATER (WfW), a Swiss-based non-profit organisation also present in Zambia, founded in 2012 and promoting the fair and sustainable use of water.

WfW won YAKOKO’s loyalty as a soap supplier for hygiene projects it was carrying out in Maputo. Átila Cezar, YAKOKO’s communications specialist, explained to E&M that the partnership with WfW was crucial because the company “saw the foundations laid for entering local value chains”. “WfW supported an up-and-coming start-up by sourcing locally and avoided dependence on internationally sourced soaps, thus promoting sustainable practices and developing the community. Since then, WfW has remained a loyal partner and a key factor in YAKOKO’s expansion.”

On the horizon, expansion into the education sector

Today, the company is an integral part of WfW, and together they collaborate to address issues such as access to water and improving sanitation conditions. One of YAKOKO’s main contributions to this co-operation is the supply of organic soap to schools, especially those in the Maputo and KaTembe districts, through a WfW project called WinS – WASH in Schools. WASH is the acronym derived from the English “water, sanitation and hygiene” which, at a global level, identifies initiatives in the area of water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The aim is to ensure that pupils have hygienic conditions and a healthy environment. YAKOKO has already donated more than 120,000 soaps, reaching more than 7,000 students. According to Átila Cezar, the company has struggled to overcome challenges, especially logistical restrictions and the difficulty of the business in gaining scale. The ambition is to expand the product range, strengthen the distribution network and increase penetration in the domestic market, while looking for ways to conquer foreign markets. In addition, the company plans to promote social benefit initiatives through partnerships with more NGOs, reaching more communities in need. Another ongoing project is the “YAKOKO Academy”, an initiative that celebrates learning, creativity and community empowerment. Through interactive sessions, the project aims to teach children the art and science of soap making, while they have fun, collaborate with their peers and let their creativity run wild.

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By Filomena Bande • Photo: D.R


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