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Derreck Kayongo

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Derreck Kayongo

Founder, Global Soap Project; CNN Hero; Speaker


About the interview

  • Hear Derreck’s perspective on redefining sustainability and how this directly relates to you personally.
  • Be inspired by a story that started with a simple observation – followed by action and ended with of personal and sustainability triumph, despite starting with no power, money, or influence.
  • Become aware of a certain thought-process that stops great ideas from taking flight, and learn how to gather the support you need to bring your solution to life
  • Consider the balance required to maintain a global ecosystem and the level of impact caused by consumption patterns – including the need to assure sustainable development in the global south.
  • Learn how to be part of the sustainability movement the world.


About Derreck

Founder, Global Soap Project; CNN Hero; Speaker

  • Dr. Derreck Kayongo is a social innovator, entrepreneur, human rights activist and the founder of Global Soap Project, for which he was honored as a 2011 CNN Hero.
  • He's an internationally recognized visionary and humanitarian - a leader in both global health and environmental sustainability.
  • Global Soap Project is a humanitarian aid organization that collects discarded and unused soap from thousands of hotels worldwide, reprocesses it, then distributes it to in-need populations around the world.
  • Derreck’s passion for helping others and commitment to innovative thinking led him to the recent role of CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Derreck travels the world inspiring audiences with his powerful story and his approach to harnessing individual skills, as well as diversity & inclusion, to change the world.
If you could invite 1 person to a dinner party – who would it be and why?
Nelson Mandela because of his transforming evolution from violence to non violence during a time when many thought fighting for freedom only came through war.
What motivates you? Makes you happy?
I am motivated by the notion that I was created to contribute to the intellectual innovations that are geared to make this world a better place to live in. My skills and talents are not to be dormant. When I do something remarkable that makes me happy and assures me that I am not a wasted talent but a productive member of society.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Travel extensively in your lifetime because therein lays discovery and that leads one to the gates of their destiny and a capacious mind.
If you could make 1 global change – what would it be?
Contribute to the mitigation process of global warming
What are your Top 3 achievements?
I survived the war by Idi Amin that claimed close to half a million people

I graduated from a wonderful school in Tufts University

I built the Global Soap Project and become a CNN HERO!

What does sustainability mean for you?
Sustainability to me means creating a culture in humanity that understands the negative power of wasteful behaviour as consumers. And secondly learning how to reuse in order not to over consume.
What was the most important event/influence that changed your perspective?
The day I landed in a hotel in the USA and saw my used soap being thrown away every day after one use. I then realized after some research that American Hotels throw away approximately 800,000,000 bars of soap every year!! In juxtaposition there are close to two million kids that die every year due to poor hygiene globally and soap could help mitigate that problem. Getting to that stark fact changed my life forever.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
In life many spend their time pontificating about what could be and what is the problem as the arm chair generals they are but never invest their time in organizing their talents and skills in the noble work of helping solve global problems. This is the most dangerous form of existence and we should avoid it as much as possible!

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