A refugee has been praised by the UN for his part in fighting COVID-19.

Life has not been easy for Innocent Havyarimana who had to run away from his native Burundi in 2014 and start life again in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Innocent, a former chemistry student set up a soap-making business in the camp employing 42 people. Little did he know that his tiny business would become a major weapon in the fight against coronavirus.

As soon as he realised the importance of hand-washing in tackling the spread of Covid-19, he lowered prices and started to offer his products in smaller quantities and sizes, to make them more affordable. “Everyone needs soap but not everybody is able to afford it. So I lowered the prices, as it was more important to protect people than to think about making money,” says the 35-year-old, “I had to increase my production by 75% to meet the demand when the pandemic started, so Covid-19 has been good for my business. But I made sure I gave free soap to vulnerable people such as the elderly and the disabled.”

His actions have been praised by the UNHCR, the United Nation’s refugee agency, which often highlights the contribution of refugee entrepreneurs make to their host communities.