Women Entrepreneurs in Urban Settlements: Session at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) Conference 2012

Renee A. Botta, Karen Loeb with an energetic team associated with the University of Denver are attempting to combat lack of proper sanitation in an innovative way.

Urban sanitation is very difficult especially in heavily populated slum areas. Most slum populations are growing faster than availability and access to sanitation. Sanitation and hygiene is a leading cause of thousands of preventable deaths. It is estimated that one in five children in slum areas die due to diarrhea resulting from the lack of proper sanitation.

The team at the University of Denver created a program that not only addresses the need for better hygiene in the slums but also provides work to women in the community. One aspect of the program uses a mixture of local women and community health workers to produce locally made soap and teach people the importance of washing their hands and hygiene.

In many community health projects people can be very energetic and diligent about what they have learnt, but that excitement is hard to sustain. After sometime, people fall back into their old ways and to habits that prohibit good health. With this program, they have combated that challenge by empowering the local women who sell the soap who also work as community educators, continuously teaching the importance of good hygiene. It is in the best interest of the local women who sell the soap for the community to continue to use the soap.  Simply the more soap people consume the more of the product they need, improving the soap business. Continuing education and push for behaviorally change is coming from these entrepreneurs because in the end it benefits their business. Interesting way that local entrepreneurs are addressing sustainability and hygiene!


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