LAKE TAHOE, CA—“What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization,” said Dr. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who, in 1943, wrote about his theory on human’s hierarchy of needs.
It starts with the very basic of human needs—air, food, water—and then, there’s the need for safety, security and stability, followed by love and a sense of belonging. Next comes esteem needs—prestige and a feeling of accomplishment—and at the top of the tier are self-actualizing needs, such as becoming fulfilled and having a purpose. When a need is satisfied, the person is able to move to the next level in his or her life.
Seeking to create lasting change in the lives of people in Africa is Health to Humanity (H2H), which describes itself as a “for-profit company with giving at its core.” Its mission is to help prevent hygiene-related diseases and provide entrepreneurial training in countries around the globe. H2H’s founder, John Cefalu, came up with the idea while he was a student at Chapman University in Orange, CA. Now, the company has cemented a deal to sell its mission-oriented bars of soap in the Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa in Stateline, NV, and other retailers to help foster sustainable businesses in African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.
“At an early age, John had an incredible vision for a concept to help humanity. John went to Africa to work with orphans and when he got there, he realized soap is medicine. He wanted to help train them in sales and marketing, and then he created the H2H Academy to cultivate ambassadors for the concept throughout Africa,” said DeVerges Jones, COO of Health to Humanity, whose career background includes strategic marketing and branding for Fortune 500 companies.
Jones noted that the dynamics of the world today in terms of disease, hunger and international crises, make it critical to have a long-term commitment. “That’s the beauty of Health to Humanity. It’s a long-term game plan,” he said. “The more successful we are in the U.S., the more we’ll be able to help get people into a healthy situation, but also give them an entrepreneurial mindset to nurture the development of their country.”
The soaps are all-natural, comprised of a fusion of olive, soybean and coconut oils, as well as shea butter. The 4.7 ounce-sized bars are vegan, non-GMO and come in a variety of scents, including peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and lavender or unscented. H2H is planning to launch additional scents, such as tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemongrass in the first half of the year. With each purchased bar, H2H donates a percentage to fund micro-businesses employing emerging entrepreneurs around the world, which, in turn, will generate a revenue stream for the entrepreneurs and send a percentage to affiliated orphanages in these communities.
Providing the H2H soap as an amenity can be a win-win for hospitality companies as brands move toward more sustainable and socially conscious efforts for travelers interested in meaningful experiences, noted Jones.
“Primarily, what we’re interested in at Health to Humanity is a broad reach and soap is a broad reach type of product. We’re not limited to any channel and hospitality is a big opportunity for us. People really want a unique customer experience when they go to a spa or hotel, and our soap fits right into that,” said Jones. “The beauty of our product is the connection to helping people in Africa. There’s a duality to our product that is unique and needed in the 21st century. We continue to have repeat purchases at spas in Reno.”
Simply giving out bars of soap is a short-term proposition, and Jones believes the way to strengthen populations is through educational support that establishes a mindset to enable growth and a fulfillment of one’s potential.
“The revenue these communities are building goes into their pockets and we’re employing people, who were at [one time]not employable; it’s a great economic model,” he said. “It’s very inspiring when you see a person who has been challenged their entire life have a business that is thriving. It’s a great feeling.”