Legend has it that Cleopatra, the queen of ancient Egypt, bathed in it in the belief that it enhanced her beauty.
Cut to the present, many are digging into history in search of such secrets.
A Solapur-based start-up, Organiko, is working with donkey owners in the country to procure the animal’s milk to make organic soaps out of it.
Behind a booth at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj’s Rural Innovators’ Startup Conclave here, Organiko co-founder Pooja Kaul claims that it’s the first of its kind in the country.
“There is 25% donkey’s milk in the hand-made soap. It’s good for the skin and has anti-ageing properties, and can help with skin allergies and acne. It also is a moisturiser,” she claims.
The company primarily works with donkey owners at Solapur in Maharashtra, most of whom are daily-wage earners.
The high price for donkey’s milk, she says, has now helped these people augment their income.
“Donkey’s milk sells for around ₹2,000 per litre. Owners earn about ₹150 per day. They are unaware of how much the donkey milk could fetch them. While most owners are from rural areas and are nomadic people, we also engage with those who are urban slum-dwellers,” she says. The price is high as each donkey yields between 500 ml and 700 ml milk per day.
At present, Organiko is working with 24 owners who have between 45 and 50 donkeys. The company, she says, treats these owners as dairy farmers.
But is India ready to accept such a product? “Yes,” Ms. Kaul says. “A lot of people want to try new products. Our recent pilot project made us realise that working women between 25 and 45 years of age want to use such products.”
Organiko has priced a 100-gm bar of their soap at ₹500 and has a capacity to make 1,000 such soaps per day at its unit in Delhi NCR.