Soaps made from shea butter and coconut oil may sound like luxurious products only Whole Foods shoppers can afford, but those hand-crafted bars of soap are helping transform entire communities in Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. Not only do they protect the locals from disease, but they are the commodities by which people can operate their own sustainable sanitation businesses.

The young man behind this genius operation is 20-year-old Chapman University student John Cefalu, who is currently awaiting official nonprofit status approval for his organization, Health 2 Humanity, flying to Africa to between class breaks to train men on the ground.  “Our products aren’t just bars of soap, they’re a vehicle to create an impact in developing nations,” said John Cefalu, Health 2 Humanity’s founder and president. “I don’t think people understand how vital health products are in the overall grand scheme of health.”

In 2014, Cefalu began personally cooking up batches of soap in his Orange County, California, dorm room with his friends to perfect the recipe that was both chemical- free and antibacterial, so that even people with skin conditions or sensitive skin could use the product. The antibacterial and moisturizing components of the soap itself can help with skin conditions such as ringworm, dandruff and conventional rashes that can be exacerbated by lack of hygiene.

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