The power of observation inspired Derreck Kayongo to found the Global Soap Project, which recycles soap remnants from hotel rooms and ships fresh soap bars to vulnerable populations in more than 90 countries.
“Observing human beings allows you to find ways to bring change, or to add, retrofit, or tweak something to be better,” he tells the CUNA News Podcast. “I observed refugees dying because of poor health. And I observed hotels throwing away soap. That observation created the Global Soap Project.”
Kayongo once walked the same path as many of the people whose lives his charity improves daily.
In his youth, Kayongo and his family were refugees in Kenya, displaced from their once prosperous life in Uganda during the rule of notorious dictator Idi Amin.
That difficult experience taught him empathy while also preparing him for success.
“Entrepreneurs have no fear that is debilitating. We all have fears, but their fears do not stop them from doing things,” says Kayongo, now CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. “Coming out of the refugee process in Kenya and seeing the violence that I saw, and living through it, proves there's no fear in me.”
As this year’s speaker for the annual ED (Filene) Talk at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), Kayongo will explore the four key factors behind his professional success: service, education, leadership, and faith (SELF).
Kayongo aims to open GAC attendees’ eyes to the power of observation and to connect people to purpose.
“I want to remind them they are here for a reason in their business and in their work. You don't do work and business just to make money. You do it to empower people,” he says.