zeit (oil) + soap = ZOAP: A Bubbling Initiative
For the first time in the history of Ripples of Happiness (Fall 2014), students from various universities came together through the youth organisation, LOYAC, to create revolutionary brand ZOAP that uses cooking oil to make, well, soap!
According to Bushra Harakeh, “It was a great experience! In Ripples of Happiness, I teamed up with people from backgrounds very different than mine and that itself was a challenge. What I found interesting in the overall experience and affected me personally is that I discovered that everyone has a great potential and willing to provide help and support to others if they are given the chance to. We all thought about what are the major problems in our society and tried solving them.” The ambitious project tackled unemployment, environmental sustainability, and social hygiene. The students worked with underprivileged women, training them how to up-cycle soap from used cooking oil. The ZOAP team also marketed their product on social media, which they also used as a platform to spread awareness about the importance of recycling and maintaining good hygiene.
For Nour Harakeh, “Ripples of Hapiness was more than a project. It touched me personally and taught me that many people are in need of help and every one of us can do something. The ladies we worked with were very excited and that made me value how much a simple action can make a huge difference. Moreover, I improved my time management skills, communication skills and handling obstacles.”
The ZOAP team won first place in the 6-country regional competition, organised by the Coca-Cola Foundation in partnership with INJAZ Arab, and received a $10,000 grant to build and forward their community project and empower more women. The team is currently in the process of developing a business plan to officially launch the ZOAP brand and expand their range of products to include liquid soaps and creams. But for Bushra, the current CEO of the company, her experience building the company influenced her career choice and ambitions:
“I learned so much from this program, whether professionally or personally, things that every university student must learn and know such as leadership and communication skills no matter what major they are in. The experience of Ripples of Happiness changed my career path. I found out that I want to teach and spread awareness about things I care about more than I want to do anything else. My team won first prize among more than 10 teams competing and now we are building our own company at the age of 21, something I'd never imagined doing!”