A young Burundian businessman has been aiding in the control of COVID-19 through his soap making business. The 35 -year- old has spent most of his teenage life in Kakuma, a refugee camp after fleeing from his home. Originally, Havyarimana comes from Burundi. He narrates that he escaped from home following the numerous death threats he received from his late mother’s relatives. When Havyarimana fled home, he was in the middle of his chemistry studies at the University of Burundi.
All he remembers of his hometown are painful memories. Hence moving to Kakuma provided him an opportunity to start afresh. Unlike other refugees who rely on humanitarian aid to survive, Mr. Havyarimana opted to hustle and cater to his own needs. And it is through the struggles that he started a soap-making business.
Havyarimana is not the only victim of violence; the other refugees have undergone worse encounters. Roughly, about 300000 people flee from their homes amid political crises to neighboring countries searching for safety.
How Did He Make the Soap?
At first, Mr. Havyarimana said that he had no idea how to make the soap. Therefore, he started gathering information from webs. However, it was not long before he enrolled in a soap making course offered by the World Lutheran Federation aid agency. Later, with a friend’s help, he got a loan and opened a soap making business. He also received grants from the UNHCR and NGOs, which he used to expand his business.
The Soap Business
Mr. Havyarimana named his business Glap Industries. The name is a short form for God loves all people. As of now, 42 people are working in the industry. This is quite a progress, knowing that it started with only two employees. Most of the workers are refugees, while 18 Kenyan citizens from Kakuma. Glap supplies its soap to locals around and institutions in and out of the camp.
In some cases, the agencies buy soap from Glap and give it away to the refugees who cannot afford them. Despite having many competitors, Mr. Havyarimana is not scared for his business. In fact, he offers classes to people who are interested in making cleaning products.
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Fight Against Coronavirus
The Soap making business has come in handy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The founder, Innocent Havyarimana, has been a great help in the camp amid the pandemic. The UNHCR and UN refugee agencies have celebrated him for his amazing contribution to the camp at a time of aid. Since Mr. Havyarimana is aware that not everyone in the camp could afford the soap, he lowered his prices.
By doing so, Havyarimana helps control the spread of the virus as everyone has an opportunity to sanitize. Eujin Byun, a spokesperson for UNHCR in Kenya, reported that the refugees have demonstrated continued unity amid the pandemic, looking after each other and spreading awareness of how to curb the virus. Eujin says that she isn’t surprised with the camp collaboration as the refugees are very community-oriented and look after each other.