One Village, UK
One Village Vegetarian Soap comes from Palam Rural Centre in Tamilnadu. This society's roots are with some of the lowest caste people of southern India, who founded their own self-help community organization after an earlier charity project changed its focus against the wishes of the beneficiaries. The whole community upped sticks and moved off onto land it eventually purchased and set up shop as a wholly independent entity. Palam was then registered as a society for the common good for those who live and work in the community.
The community has made soap for many years, using simple technology, and this helps provide livelihoods. Most other soap consists of a fat base into which perfume is added, but One Village has worked with the centre to develop these very different soaps that have no added fragrance but rely on a profound base of active vegetable oils.
When Palam first set up this was a very rural area, the community being surrounded by open fields. Over the years, nearby towns have expanded and come closer. Many people who previously worked in small holdings and farms have moved to work in the new factories, mostly to make garments for international customers. By comparison, the quality of life in the Palam community remains very strong and spirits are high so long as the products keep selling.
One Village was set up in 1979 specifically to work in partnership with producers' organizations such as Palam. It only works with organizations that have a social agenda, and avoids normal commercial businesses such as family companies because it wants to encourage equality of opportunity for all the workers. Many producers' organizations have depended on One Village continuously for well over 20 years, and benefit from product development and marketing skills as well as - most importantly - the strength of spirit that comes from the lasting solidarity.
One Village has its own website at Onevillage.com