Gwinnett man’s used hotel soap leads to next global gig

Derreck Kayongo (right) met last year with university student volunteers at the Global Soap Project, which Kayongo co-founded. The organization recycles the little hotel soaps that Americans use and then throw away. Kayongo was recently named as the new CEO of another organization, the Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

You never know where an idea will lead you. Just ask Derreck Kayongo, who now lives in the suburbs of metro Atlanta and was recently named CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

As a young grad student visiting the U.S. years ago, Kayongo was shocked to learn the hotel where he was staying threw away guests’ little bars of used soap. A former refugee from Uganda, he saw even the used soap as a potentially life-saving treasure.

Years later, Kayongo launched a nonprofit that has gathered, sanitized and shipped millions of bars of soap to poor countries.

Check out how he made the leap to now lead an Atlanta center with global ambitions, in the latest Unofficial Business column on


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