The day may seem never-ending for some in these times of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic but for Innocent and his staff at GLAP (God Loves All People) Enterprises, there aren’t enough hours in a day. They are stepping up production of soap to be made available in Kakuma Refugee Camp and throughout Turkana West (Kenya).
Originally from Burundi, where he studied chemistry, Innocent had to flee the country’s insecurity and reached Kakuma, Kenya, where he has been living for the past seven years. The business project began in 2015 and it was in late 2016 that Innocent and his wife Aline prepared a first batch of natural soaps as Christmas gifts. Since then - with support from one of his classmates from Burundi, Lutheran World Federation’s assistance in attending a refresher soap training at Diamond Industries Limited soap-making group in Eldoret, and a business loan from Action Africa Help International - the business has grown to provide the community with 15 different products including natural liquid and bars of soap, shampoo, and body wash (also for babies), detergent and disinfectant.
The Diploma in Liberal Studies and its concentration in Business drew Innocent’s attention as an opportunity to further his ability to address business challenges, and assist in community development including through mentorship and job creation.
“The Diploma programme took out of me the fear of continuing my studies and extending my business,” he told us, also noting the improved communication and business skills developed throughout the course of the programme but also the support of JWL staff, colleagues and community leaders, culminating in graduation and the successful registration of GLAP enterprises. Innocent is now studying towards a BA in Business administration through Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) Global Education Movement (GEM).
The objective is to extend his business to the international level, realising that capital, digital marketing and supply are obstacles to address. Right now, however, the onus is on producing and distributing sufficient amounts of quality handwashing soap to the community, at an affordable cost – even for the poorest. GLAP is making deliveries within Turkana West but capital and packing challenges still exist. It now counts 45 staff members - up from 18 prior to the pandemic – working with masks and respecting physical distancing guidelines. Innocent’s project has the double advantaged of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as creating work opportunities at a time of labour contraction.
Innocent also took part in the event launching the 2019-2020 Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan (Nairobi, February 2019), where he presented his business and confirmed that “life in camp is possible and refugees can be self-reliant.”
To current and future would-be entrepreneur JWL students, Innocent would say they should persevere in their studies and their business projects – “Don’t start and leave in the middle of your business.”
*For more information/ If you are in need of soap, contact Innocent: