The Burundian refugee soap maker who is fighting coronavirus in Kenya

By Fernando Duarte
BBC World Service

Publishedduration1 hour agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingRelated Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightUNHCRimage captionInnocent Havyarimana lowered the prices of his products when the pandemic struck

When Innocent Havyarimana started his soap-making business in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp in early 2015, he was trying to move on from the traumatic events that had made him flee his native Burundi a year earlier.

Little did he know that his cottage enterprise would become a major weapon in the fight against coronavirus in one of the world's biggest settlements of its kind – Kakuma is home to almost 200,000 people.

As soon as the former chemistry student realised the importance of hand-washing in tackling the spread of Covid-19, he lowered prices and started to offer his products in smaller quantities and sizes, to make them more affordable.

"Everyone needs soap but not everybody is able to afford it. So I lowered the prices, as it was more important to protect people than to think of profit," the 35-year-old tells the BBC.

"I had to increase my production by 75% to meet the demand when the pandemic started, so Covid-19 has been good for my business.

"But I made sure I gave free soap to vulnerable people such as the elderly and the disabled."

You may also like...