In the summer of 2019, Joshua Draget, a business administration major from Southern Adventist University (SAU), began serving as a student missionary at the Riverside Farm Institute in Chikwele, Southern Province, Zambia. When he started this journey, he had no plans to create a natural soap company that would help numerous youth and women in Zambia provide for their families and share God’s word with their communities.
“But God had great plans for Draget and Riverside Farm that, as Jeremiah 29:11 says, would give them ‘hope and a future,’ ” said members of the Enactus team in the Collegedale, Tennessee, United States-based school.
In Zambia, Draget found a high unemployment rate. When he arrived at the Riverside Farm, he immediately saw this need for stable employment for the local youth and women. So, he established the Akuna Soap Industry. The word “Akuna” comes from the phrase “Akuna Sesipala,” meaning “Nothing is impossible with God.” Draget saw the unique name as fitting. “With God’s help, the Akuna Soap Industry has already provided 360 jobs for youth and women, and the company is still growing,” he said.
Most soap and cleaning products in Zambia are imported, and those made locally are usually manufactured using harsh chemicals and detergents. On the other hand, Akuna’s soap is made with natural ingredients, including charcoal and shea butter, which are suitable for a variety of skin types and have fantastic health benefits, Draget explained.
The current production rate is 400 bars of soap per day in four options — Charcoal Cleanser, Oatmeal Honey, Peppermint Moisturizer, and Tea Tree Antiseptic. “We retrofitted a 40-foot (12-meter) shipping container into a shelved curing room which can hold up to 16,000 bars,” Dragnet shared. “After two to three weeks, the bars are taken back into the production room, where they are packaged and labeled, ready for sale.”
“Akuna’s soap is competitively priced, substantially lower than other soaps on the market,” he said. “These advantages, along with the company’s vast network of sales agents and ease of scalability, have allowed the Akuna Soap Industry to expand in Zambia.”
Akuna’s current business plan lays out how the company will provide up to 3,000 jobs for youth and women while simultaneously establishing a network of missionaries who sell soap to the people of Zambia and hand out biblical literature to their customers, Draget emphasized. “God is using this project to bless Zambian youth and women by enabling them to provide for their families while at the same time spreading the gospel.”
About Enactus at SAU
Guided by academic advisers and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus SAU create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe, according to the Enactus web page. “The experience not only transforms lives; it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world,” it reads.
Team members are part of an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic, and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need, the SAU team page reads. Its motto is “Inspiring innovation to meet the needs of our local and global community through Christ-centered service.”
The Enactus team at SAU recently placed third in the 2021 Enactus United States National Exposition.