INVERCLYDE social business, Trade Right International, is playing its part in the nationwide effort to tackle coronavirus, after winning a contract to produce tens of thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser for NHS Scotland.
Trade Right International, which was founded in 2008 by Trev and Denice Gregory, normally makes luxury natural soap bars and skincare products under their brand, carishea. It works with disadvantaged communities in Ghana, offering trade and employment as a route to combatting poverty.
The shea nuts that are used to make carishea’s products are harvested by women’s co-operatives in Ghana, and surplus profit from the sale of the toiletries goes back into the same communities.
The social business also operates an employability initiative for ex-offenders and recovering addicts in transition from social exclusion to inclusion.
However, because a lot of the company’s orders come from hotels, it has been experiencing a downturn in demand for its usual products becuase of the effects of coronavirus on tourism and travel.
Denice explained: “With changes in demand for our products, we were wondering how we could keep going, and had started considering furlough leave for our staff.
“When we heard that local food banks and community hubs were short of hand sanitiser which they required desperately in order to keep delivering food to those who need it most we looked at manufacturing conditioning hand sanitiser.
“We made an initial amount of sanitiser and sold it to them at a very low price, just enough to cover our costs. We then heard that companies such as distillers had been offering to help make sanitiser on a larger scale, so we signed up to a list of potential suppliers being gathered by Scottish Enterprise. The next thing we knew, we had a phone call asking us if we could make sanitiser for the NHS.”
Some companies who have already stepped in to manufacture large batches of sanitiser do not have the facility to bottle it, so Trade Right International’s initial task is to bottle 100,000 units of sanitiser at their Inverclyde facility. After that, they will start to manufacture their own formula, which includes conditioner to help prevent hands becoming irritated with frequent washing and sanitising. Trade Right International’s first order is for 100,000 units.
As a result, Trev and Denice have gone from wondering if it’s possible to keep all their staff busy to needing extra pairs of hands to fulfil orders.
“It’s all happened very quickly,” explains Denice. “We’ve had offers of voluntary help from local people who have been furloughed from their usual jobs. Everyone in our community really is pulling together, which is lovely to see.”
“Given the overall shortage of sanitiser, we did have commercial companies contacting us with what could have been very lucrative contracts, but the whole ethic of our business is about helping people, not just about making money.
“Doing this to help our NHS workers stay safe fits in perfectly with what Trade Right International is all about.”
Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said: “Trade Right International (TRI) is an excellent local organisation and I am pleased they have re-purposed their business to help the fight against Covid-19.
“The acute shortage of hand sanitiser at the beginning of this crisis has opened up this opportunity for TRI. The partnership approach taken by them and many industries and businesses has been exceptional.
“This hand sanitiser, made for the NHS, will be well utilised and I’m pleased a local business is playing such a leading role on the frontline. Well done to everyone at TRI.”