Layne Vandenberg

This past June, I traveled to Meru, Kenya to continue working on a grassroots, social entrepreneurship and human-centered design experiment called “The Kithoka Soap Initiative” (TKSI). I originally laid the foundation for TKSI in the summer of 2012 alongside Dr. Karambu Ringera, founder and President of a Kenya-based non-profit organization named International Peace Initiatives (IPI). TKSI encourages local economic independence and growth through the employment of local women and youth, the use of local products and natural resources, and the local sale of our products (laundry detergent, body soap, and lip balm). All TKSI profits will directly support IPI’s Kithoka Amani Community Home (KACH), an orphanage for Ameru children whose families have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. While in Kenya this summer, I was working toward beta-testing each product, researching concrete next steps for the development of the business, and collaborating alongside the IPI team to prepare for the launch of our products and sales. With the support of University of Michigan’s Raoul Wallenberg International Summer Travel Fellowship Program, the International Institute Individual Fellowship Program, and the Program for International Comparative Studies, I will continue to travel and develop TKSI throughout this school year.

To learn more about The Kithoka Soap Initiative, please visit Layne’s blog at