Soap for Hope ready to clean up

A student-led Enactus SFU initiative is turning a profit — over to underemployed Downtown Eastside residents.

Enactus SFU is the local branch of Enactus, a global student organization that works to improve the livelihood of local community members through entrepreneurial action.

The group has partnered with Vancouver’s Mission Possible to help the Downtown Eastside non-profit make one of its volunteer work-experience projects more profitable. Mission Possible collects lightly-used soap bars destined for the trash from hotels. Currently, trainees volunteer to recycle and repurpose the old bars, which are then donated to other non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Enactus SFU is working with 4D Labs, SFU’s materials and research laboratories, to develop a formula that will improve the quality of Mission Possible’s soaps and create a saleable product that generates enough revenue to pay workers.

At present, the soap in its latest form has generated more than $3,000 in profit and is on track for $11,000 by the end of May.

“We’re looking to create a micro-job where someone would start out at minimum wage and likely around three hours a week,” says Matt Smedley, deputy director of Mission Possible. “The hope is that as revenues increase, we would be able to offer more employment to that individual and to other individuals.”

Smedley says Enactus SFU and 4D Labs have worked hard to find a formula that creates a competitive consumer soap product. “They’ve done a great job in that, and it’s still early stages as to what kind of sales are possible and how many people we will be able to employ."