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Two women holding a ecosoap bucket

Saving and supplying soap in developing countries

The issue

In some areas of the developing world, only 1% of households have soap for handwashing.

This lack of access to basic hygiene is a critical factor in fighting the spread of preventable diseases.

What can we do about it?

Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards winner Samir Lakhani set up his non-profit organisation, Eco-Soap Bank, to provide affordable soap to families in developing countries.

After seeing a mother bathe her newborn baby in laundry powder because the family couldn’t afford soap, Samir returned to his hotel and noticed how much soap was being wasted. The soap bank is a surprisingly simple idea that addresses both of these problems at once. It works by employing women to collect leftover hotel soap, they then recycle, sterilise and distribute it within their communities.

In the last three years, more than 720,000 people in ten developing countries were able to buy soap thanks to the company’s efforts. The enterprise has partnered with 960 hotels which donate soap that is resold at half the market rate. This, in turn, dramatically reduces waste.

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