Background: Meet Alice Konga Nathaniel
For many years South Sudan has suffered war and famine due to tensions between political parties for power.
This has caused many women and their families to be displaced. While some have stayed behind in South Sudan to try and salvage what is left of their old lives, women like Alice Konga Nathaniel fled to refugee camps for safety.
Alice was raised in Kajo Keji county, Central Equatoria State. Because of constant war and political strife, she repeatedly fled to Uganda and returned to South Sudan for over 25 years.
She is a widow and mother of three daughters and two sons, the youngest of which she recently lost to brain cancer while stuck in a refugee camp in Moyo district Uganda.
It was at this point that Alice decided to do something that would help her improve the lives of her children and the community at large.
The Birth of Lulu Works
For centuries, the women of South Sudan have extracted Nilotica Shea butter, locally called Lulu butter which is a Shea butter variant local to Eastern and Central Africa. Lulu is known for its immense benefits to skin, hair especially given the harsh Sudanese weather.
These women trying to rebuild their lives using their own strength and resources harnessed their generational experience in manufacturing Shea butter by coming together to form women's cooperative groups. One of which was Lulu LifeWorks, a partner of The Zola Collective
Alice was introduced to and learned lulu oil and soap processing from an ARC sponsored initiative in Kajo Keji County in 1995, which was how she had been supporting her family up until this point.
In 2000, the ARC engaged with some of these women's groups to train them on how to improve their production process and turn their knowledge into a lucrative business.
The NGO helped to empower women in these cooperative groups by teaching them improved techniques to develop, package, market and distribute globally the highest quality Nilotica shea butter products.
It was in these groups that Alice further improved her knowledge on how to extract Nilotica Shea nut oil and use it to produce body butter, soaps, lip balms, and mosquito repellant.
Excited by her new skills, Alice joined Lulu Works, a worker-owned enterprise registered in 2007, to help her grow, market, and distribute her Nilotica shea butter products.
Her ambition and hard work led her to serve as both the county and training coordinator for Kajo Keji county, managing production and budgets for ten processing groups and over 300 women between 2002 and 2009.
Winning By Supporting Others
Motivated by how much success she had been able to help other women achieve while serving as coordinator, Alice took the initiative to start the Lulu Works cooperative society in Kajo Keji County in 2010. Her goal was to help as many women as possible to gain financial independence through learning new skills
The coop was validated initially at the grassroots level, then county, and later Central Equatoria State level. It finally became recognized as a multi-purpose society under the government of South Sudan in Juba in 2011.
Alice is a manager for rural production of Nilotica Shea butter through the coop in Kajo Keji County, South Sudan. The coop members, now refugees in Moyo District Uganda, continue to process Nilotica lulu oil and soap for local, regional, and international markets.
At the Zola Collective, we always look for ways to build partnerships that improve quality of life, support livelihoods, and showcase the best products from Africa.
Our partnership with Alice and the women in the Lulu Works coop allows us to bring you the highest quality, pure, cold-pressed, and sustainably sourced Nilotica Shea butter on the market. This ensures you get maximum benefits for hair and skin.
In fact, currently, the Lulu Works coop members are the only global manufacturers and exporters of Nilotica Shea butter.
With every jar of our moisturizing body butter you purchase, you’re helping us support the ambitious women of South Sudan who are working hard to help their families, rebuild their communities and live a better quality of life.
Try our moisturizing Nilotica body butter now.
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