Each bar of Hand in Hand soap donates a bar of soap to children in Haiti through My Neighbor’s Children.
5 million people die from water-related illnesses each year; 45% of these deaths can be prevented by handwashing. As Shrek might say, Hand in Hand is like an onion…there are a whole lot of layers to this enterprise. We’ll try to unpeel their impact…
After the other projects we’ve supported in Haiti this year, we’re also glad to be partnering with Hand in Hand as they work to address the 18,000 families that have lost their homes due to Hurricane Sandy flooding.
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Hand in Hand founders Bill and Courtney are a husband-and-wife social entrepreneurship duo that had been thinking about ideas for a sustainable business for years when they came across an article in 2011. They read a story – unfortunately, the nonfiction kind – that said 5 million children die each year from water-related illnesses.
“We were aware of the water crisis, but we weren’t aware that a bar of soap could prevent half of those deaths,” said Bill when he described that moment of reading the article. Today, they have an enterprise that donates a bar of soap for every bar of soap purchased.
So he and his wife got started – and quickly. Learning as they went, within seven months of reading that article they had started Hand in Hand. By February of 2012, Bill and Courtney were in Haiti on their first soap drop. They had partnered with My Neighbor’s Childrenin Orlando, Florida because they knew the founder firsthand and, importantly, they were small enough to work with Hand in Hand to schedule soap distributions according to their purchases.
Bill explained, however, that he and Courtney thought hard about how to make donations that were sustainable: simply dumping products in developing countries or impoverished areas can often disrupt local economies – perhaps ultimately doing more harm than good.
In picking a specific community to work with in Haiti, Bill and Courtney also know that the orphanages simply don’t have budgets to go out and purchase soap. And they know firsthand who they are helping: “We don’t think of just ‘children,’” Bill explained about their concept of the project, “we have specific children that we’re thinking of.”
But disrupting local economies isn’t just something they’re trying to avoid: it’s something they’re actively addressing. Hand in Hand is partnering with Whole Planet, the nonprofit arm of Whole Foods, to fund micro-credit loans in the U.S. and abroad.
And finally, Hand in Hand has this amazing acknowledgment that it’s not only people, but also the places we all live in, that need help. Most soap companies use palm oil harvested from cleared rainforest. Through their partnership with SeaCology, they save 50 square feet of rainforest in Southeast Asia for every soap bar purchase.