Our story of soap or how we work (me) in Angola
Sometime while we were still living in the Czech Republic, my husband and I started cooking soap at home. Just for fun and personal use. Gradually, as we distributed it to friends and family, and they repeatedly demanded more and more, the husband came up with the idea of starting a business and making a living in Angola. It seemed like a stupid idea, but I didn't fight back. At the time, I didn't know Angola and had no idea how things were here.
So we started preparing everything for founding a company that would operate in Angola and be completely complete. The husband took care of legal matters, licenses, etc ... He communicated with a lawyer in Angola. I dealt with recipes and finding goods from neighboring countries and also provided things regarding the transport of material to Angola from the Czech Republic. We solved graphics, design and other things together, it worked out nicely for us and everything started to fit together beautifully. We succeeded and we moved to Angola with the company.
Work habits and habits
The time has come to find space for trade and production. It was an endless process, everything went great until I showed up and the price immediately rose several hundred thousand higher. In the end, we found a space that seemed ideal to us, but the rental price was absolutely insane for me. However, the family decided that the place was great and there was no time to look further.
So we started building a store and a factory. It all took about two months (endless two months) to argue with the workers. In these moments, I began to understand how things work here and what work habits they have (or rather do not have). For a European who worked for a German company for several years, this was absolutely destructive. After two months, however, we managed to open a store and a factory.
Finding employees was another problem. Different region different morals. To pay for the work you have to add money for food and transport. So you don't actually pay them just for working, which would be fine, and for them to come to work and feed them.
I soon realized that coming to work was actually a miracle, wanting them to come on time is quite a superhuman feat. Over time, we caught all these trifles with fines for late arrivals and no arrivals. Basically, a month was enough when half of the pay was paid in fines and the late arrivals were gone. Suddenly there was no rain, clutter at home, congestion or lack of transport taxis.
Dot here, dot there ...
I managed to teach several people to produce in my factory, despite my problem with Portuguese. We started by turning on the scale, we caught the difference between 30 and 3.0 on the scale (there is no longer a dot here, a dot there or 30 or 3.0 - both are simply 30). I was engaged in production and people in the factory and husband in charge of the people in the store.
We drove 45 km every day to work, the trip took about 90 minutes, when there was no problem on the way. We left at 8.00 in the morning and returned around 23.00. The staff was reduced from 10 to 5. During the first year, we were several times on radio, television and newspapers. Television and radio have always been a huge stress for me. They liked to bounce back from the topic of our company and fill in questions about private life. For me, communication was still difficult, constantly translating into Portuguese from English and then into Czech.
After a year, our employees were reliable people who became part of the family. Some of us paid tuition fees, while others paid for the treatment of their children or parents. Another didn't have his shoes and clothes, so we dressed him. Neither I nor my husband can do it otherwise, we can't say no. So our company became one small natural family: D
Discovering African treasures
After two years, we decided that paying such a high rent did not make sense and we decided to buy our own space. A new marathon of searching for a suitable space has begun. In the meantime, I had a factory at home. We couldn't afford not to produce for several months. We opened on February 13, 2019 in our own. Our little shop Charme Natura, our common child.
The company is still undergoing changes, employees have changed, we are trying to adapt to the situation here, which is now different than 2 years ago. We also bought an oil press, moved the production to the area of the old house where the family once lived. We try to import as few raw materials as possible and process and use the material available in Angola. For example, we use cocoa, coffee, sesame, pumpkin, papaya, baobab, coconut to make oils. I discovered Urucum here, which has healing effects, and I use it to make a powder that I add to our soap.
It is very difficult to produce anything in a country where they have no technology, even if it is just soaps that you cook in a pot. Importing anything is a very complicated and expensive process. Customs duties are often more expensive here than the material itself. It's a struggle, but we keep going and inventing new things.