015: Find out How Bars of Soaps Can Become a Beacon of Hope – John Cefalu

How do you create a sustainable program that impacts everyone long after you’re gone?

John Cefalu is the founder of Health 2 Humanity, an organization that teaches communities, in poor rural areas of Africa, how to make and sell soap. When John traveled to Kenya at the age of 17, he realized that we take hygiene for granted in the United States and that over 1.4 million deaths can be prevented each year just by hand washing with soap. He also believed that the charity model of giving what you have to someone in need today was not sustainable in the long run. Through his grassroots efforts, he and his volunteers have taught people, in 12 locations in 3 different countries in Africa, how to make and sell soap to their community.

Key Takeaways:

[3:15] What’s John’s story? Why did he decide to volunteer?

[5:35] When John was 17-years-old he went to Kenya and volunteered at an orphanage for two weeks.

[8:35] John noticed the volunteer model wasn’t sustainable for this particular scenario. It’s great to give shoes to a child who needs them, but what about 8 months from now? How do you keep it going?

[9:10] We often take hygiene for granted.

[10:00] John and his charity, Health 2 Humanity, sell soap domestically so that he and his volunteers can fund international programs.

[12:00] It was John’s goal to make the programs overseas sustainable, long after his charity and the volunteers were gone.

[14:50] Giving someone an item today will not make a difference in the long run.

[16:55] John is teaching people how to fish. He’s not just giving them the fish and leaving them to fend for themselves.

[19:40] John currently has 12 locations in 3 different countries around the world.

[20:10] Illness has dropped by 25% in these locations and many skin diseases have been eradicated.

[21:55] You can take advice from almost anyone, but you don’t really know how well it’ll work until you put it to the test.

[26:00] What kind of challenges has John faced when he was setting up his charity?

[33:15] John shares a success story about his friend and business partner who grew up in a Kenyan orphanage.

[44:45] If John fails, he knows that the 12 communities his charity has touched will be OK.

[46:45] You can’t teach people how to have a passion. You can only give them the resources.

[47:15] There’s this misconception that people on that side of the world just aren’t as smart. This is completely untrue. They’ve just never had the opportunity.

[50:45] John talks about the differences between American and African culture.

Mentioned in This Episode:





Email: Cefalu@h2hsoap.org

Phone: 530-307-2314


“The minute we start to focus on the activities as oppose to the impact, is the minute we’re going to start failing.”

“Giving someone a bar of soap, a pair of shoes, $10 to make it to the next month – is not going to make a difference.”

“We’re using soap as a vehicle, but we can do this with anything.”

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