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Soap making business in Kenya

Soap-making in Kenya is one of the most lucrative businesses you can start. A group of women and youth have turned to soap making in Kenya after their businesses crumbled due to the effects of COVID 19. Over 300 women and youths are now making soaps, medicinal detergents, and similar products using unconventional natural ingredients like onions, fruits, and vegetables, and is gaining a foothold in the country’s soap-making market. 

This business is increasingly popular in Kenya. Soap making is simple and requires little capital to startup, so there is no surprise as to why there are so many people who are now entering this business in Kenya. It is not expensive to become a soap boiler/maker. They make homemade handmade soaps that include no chemicals with side effects and natural ingredients. The market is already stiff with competition, however there is something for you if you are thinking about starting your own soap making business in Kenya. Keep reading if you want to know how to succeed in the soap making industry in Kenya.

The most important thing is to learn how to make soap. Customers like to use products of very high quality, so if you do not know how to make soap it is highly recommended that you attend soap making classes so you can produce soaps of good standard quality at least. These can be in the form of workshops, training programs, reading books, watching tutorials, or even learning from friends who are already making soaps for commercial use. It is advised to go for what is best and convenient for you. 

Here are methods used in soap making: 

  • The hot soap making process: Using saponification, the oils and lye are combined. This process requires heating, which speeds up the saponification process before the mixture gets into the mold. Make sure that the soap is half full in the crock pot because the soap will expand during heating and may overflow. 
  • The cold soap making process: This method is the most common and easiest method of soap making. This involves mixing fats and oils with sodium hydroxide lye using the saponification process. Then you can decide on the ingredients, colors, and scents to use for your soap. 

Cost of starting a soap making business

If you operate a medium or large scale soap making business, the machinery costs around 200,000 kenyan shillings (Ksh). If you are starting small you have to start with as low as 10,000 Ksh and then grow your business as your customers increase. 

To be successful in your soap making business, first, you need to identify your target market. Identifying a gap in the market will help you to identify your target customers. Do research to find out what kind of soap people need but is not currently in supply, then develop a niche. After learning the processes involved in soap making and perfecting it, it is important that you find a niche and develop your own unique formula. You can use animal by-products, natural ingredients, or a mix of ingredients. Because this is now a highly competitive industry, you need to experiment with scents, colors, and moisturizers. 

Next, it is essential to develop a business plan for any business you want to start. In your business plan, you must state who your target customers are, the soap you want to make, and the location of your business. You can run your business online in a physical store. Additionally, you need to also include the cost for all the raw materials and type of equipment you will be using to run your business. You should also indicate how you will raise the startup capital and your short-term and long-term goals for your soap business. 

You also need to register your business and get all the necessary permits and certificates as soap making requires the proper and safe handling of ingredients. So it is essential to register your business to acquire legal certificates for the use of soap ingredients. Health officials may visit your facility for inspections to make sure that all safety measures are followed, and to make recommendations on the safety of your premises.

Some pieces of equipment that you will require for your soap making business include:

  • A simple thermometer
  • Weighing scale
  • Blender
  • Mixing kettles
  • Wrappers
  • Labelers
  • Molds
  • Microwaves

Once you are consistent in soap making, you need to find suppliers for supplying scents, oils, fats, colors and wrappers. You can find many suppliers in Kenya. You can find palm oil (common ingredient) in Mombasa, and coconut oil is pressed in Malindi, Changamwe and Kilifi. You can get caustic soda in Nairobi at Tata chemicals, Chem care and Kariobangi Light Industries. Soap-making machine suppliers in Kenya include Nyaweco engineering works and on local websites like OLX. 

To start making soaps, you should get the right ingredients for production. The size of your market determines the quantity of production and how profitable your business would be. If you have your neighborhood as your target market, it is best to produce in small quantities and sell at a less expensive price. If you supply to large bodies like hospitals, schools, or restaurants, then you would need to produce in large quantities. 

Is soap making business profitable in Kenya?

The soap making business is 2:1 in terms of profitability ratio. This means that for every Ksh you spend, you get double returns. This is a great return on investment and suggests that soap making business is highly profitable. The cost of making one bar soap in Kenya is between 45 to 55 Ksh, which is not expensive. Try to source raw materials for soap making from cheap suppliers, but they must be of high quality. You will know the soap is of high quality if the soap lathers and lasts long. 

How much money can a soap business make?

Are you wondering how much money a soap business makes? In America, you can make up to $57,000 a year and if you are in India, you can make around INR 20000 to 80000 per month. This depends on the total number of markets that you are able to capture, as soaps are already high in the demand in the market. In May of 2022, a soap boiler can make between $36,527 – $47,304 annually. Some soap boilers can also earn an average of $26,000 to $27,000 or $26 per hour. It all depends on the size of your business. On Ziprecruiters, you can find soap boilers making as much as $110,500 annually. 

Since there is a lot of competition, you need to think of ways to stand out in your soap making business. For example, you can lower your prices so that low earners can afford your soap. You can also promote your brand with the use of social media, which can make your business more profitable. You can give free soaps to your loyal customers from time to time as another way of promoting your business. You can also provide a free soap for every purchase made. Sending out brochures and newsletters are also a great way to spread the word about your business. 

Raw materials used by soap boilers

To become a soap boiler you need to know all the raw materials needed. The following raw materials are not expensive and locally available all over Kenya for soap boiling. 

  • Palm oil
  • Coconut
  • Caustic
  • Molds
  • Fragrance
  • Soap dyes
  • Fatty palm oils
  • Silicate
Jakub Borowiec
Jakub Borowiec
Financial markets enthusiast. I studied management at the University of Economics in Wroclaw.
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