Véronique Raissa is a 32-year-old Cameroonian chemist and mother of two. She moved to the city of Agadez three years ago. A few months later, she set up a local soap factory with her older brother Jean-Marc Joël, in the airport neighborhood in Agadez city. 

They transformed the living room into a laboratory in the two-bedroom house they share. On the floor, we can see measuring buckets, 100-litre drums, plastic spatulas, a scale, and a plastic roller. In this workshop, Véronique makes bleach, liquid soap, and vinegar.

This local soap company was born when Véronique ended up stranded in Agadez following a perilous migratory journey. 

"I arrived in Agadez three years ago. I was in Algeria and trying to join my older brother Joël who was in Morocco then. But, as the migration project failed, I ended up here. I couldn't go back to Cameroon because I had sold everything and couldn't go back empty-handed. So, I stayed in Agadez," explains Véronique.

In Agadez, Véronique noticed that household products such as liquid soap and bleach were imported. So she stepped up to the challenge of manufacturing these household products locally.

"I talked to my brother Joel about this project, and he thought it was a brilliant idea and that this activity could make us rich. It was such a good idea that he decided to leave Morroco to join me in Agadez and support me in implementing this project," adds Véronique. 

However, the siblings did not have the financial and material resources to start this activity.

They decided to write up concept notes and proposals on the manufacture of household products together, which they then submitted to organizations in Agadez for fundraising.

By chance, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)'s community stabilisation programme had just launched a call for proposal via the Conseil régional d'Agadez (Agadez City Council) to support youth in setting up their business. Funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund for Niger (PBF), through the project "Understanding and Addressing Conflict Factors along Migration Routes in the Agadez Region", the programme would fund activities of vulnerable youth and women to help them sustain their needs.

Véronique's application ended up being selected. Along with 19 other young people, she received training in entrepreneurship at the Centre Incubateur des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (CIPMEN) in Agadez. During the training, Véronique shared her experience and techniques in making household products and vinegar with the young entrepreneurs. At the end of the training, she was granted material and financial support worth one million CFA to start her soap business.

"Today, we manage to sell our products in the different working services and NGOs in Agadez. We sell to hotels and many shops accept to sell our products. Our products are also transported to Tchirozerine, where three shops sell them. We make about 25,000 CFA ($41) a week and an average of 120,000 CFA ($197) a month," says Véronique. "Our ambition is to supply Arlit, as well as the other regions of Niger," she adds.

Véronique also believes that this initiative contributes to social cohesion in the city of Agadez, where the host communities have always been very hospitable towards migrants and are learning to live together.

"When we arrived three years ago, we were well received by the local population. And our first house was rented to us by a lady from Agadez. Our neighbors have integrated us into the community and have supported us all along the realisation of this project. And they are the ones who test our products first and give us feedback on the quality," says Véronique. “We are looking forward to growing bigger and contributing to the local economy with our business,” she concludes.