Two African students awarded top prize for inventing soap against malaria

African Update – 20/05/13

Two African students of the Ouagadougou based International Institute for Water and Environment in Burkina Faso won the 1ST and People’s Choice prizes at the 2013 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) held at the Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, University of California, USA.  The two students are the first non-American born citizens to ever win the GSVC which was in recognition of their invention of a malaria repellent soap that topped 18 global finalists from across the world.

Moctar Dembele from Burkina Faso and Gérard Niyondiko from Burundi jointly made the innovative breakthrough using a combination of karate citronella and other local herbs. The Faso Soap, as the invention is called, offers an innovative African solution to the most dangerous African killer problem, malaria.  It takes into particular account the financial constraints of ordinary people and the cultural habits of local families.  In the words of Dembele, “everyone uses soaps, even in the very poor communities”.

The GSVC provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentorship, exposure and $50,000 in prizes to help transform ideas into businesses that will have positive real world impact. Founded by MBA students at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the GSVC culminates each year with the Global Finals and Conference at Berkeley in April and brings together teams from around the world and Bay Area professionals for a day of learning and networking.

The Faso Soap and the GSVC award to Dembele and Niyondiko underscore abundant evidence that Africa and Africans are able to contribute solutions to all major issues confronting the continent.  Malaria remains the number one killer disease in Africa and its prevention must be a source of hope for all throughout the continent. As Faso Soap motto states “The action of a group, the future of an entire nation.”

For further reading see:

- The Congratulations to the GSVC 2013 winners on GSVC Website.

- GSVC 2013 Global Finalist Teams and project description on GSVC Website.

- Link to an article in French language on NotreAfrik website: Deux étudiants africains inventent un savon contre le paludisme

- International Institute for Water and Environment Engineering (2iE) website :

Elie Abedi Lusaku

For Humanitas Afrika

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