The Global Soap Project began with Derreck and Sarah Kayongo in 2009. Although they no longer lead the organization’s efforts, they are delighted with the progress we’ve made and the positive impact on global health that’s been created. Their heartwarming story continues to inspire all of us. Here’s a quick glance at how we started:
From Africa to Atlanta with nothing but a dream and tenacity, Derreck Kayongo beat the odds, earned an education, and has served in leadership roles in some of the world’s most respected NGOs since 1994. In 2009, he met Vicki Gordon, a veteran hospitality executive, and shared his idea – what if we took the discarded soap from your hotels and turned it into new bars? Derreck recalled his time in the refugee camp – where families were vulnerable to disease simply because they had no soap. Vicki, who became one of the founding board members of the Global Soap Project, started making calls and assembling a team to support this mission.
Meanwhile, Derreck and his wife Sarah were anxious to get started. They began to enroll local Atlanta hotels and spent their weekends collecting soap and experimenting with various soap making techniques in their basement. Sarah brought her own wealth of expertise to the Global Soap Project. With an MBA in Economic Development from Eastern University in Philadelphia, Sarah’s focus has always been on the empowerment of women and girls. Her perspective helped guide the initial mission of the organization, with the understanding that it is often the women and girls in the populations served by our work who are responsible for cooking, taking care of the little ones, fetching water and attending births. These are the people who need soap the most.
Four years later, the Global Soap Project has expanded operations from the basement of the Kayongo family to become a leading global health organization with large reprocessing facilities producing millions of bars of soap per year. In 2011, Derreck was named a Top 10 Finalist for the CNN Hero Award.
Today, Global Soap is led by a team of dedicated staff, ensuring the mission of service is fulfilled and sustained long-term.