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Daily Herald - Louis Pope honored for Innovation

12.15.2009

Daily Herald - Louis Pope honored for Innovation

Daily Herald - Honoring Innovation -by Grace Leong

Louis Pope of U.S. Synthetic Corp., one of five Utah entrepreneurs honored on Thursday for his innovation and philanthropic work, is retiring after 31 years of managing his drill bit manufacturing business to devote his time to a microcredit initiative in Kenya.

Named the 2009 Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum's Ron King Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Pope, 62, sits on the boards of several humanitarian groups including Yehu Microfinance, which helped start Coast Coconut Farms in rural Kenya. The factory makes and sells virgin coconut oil to health food companies in the U.S. including Real Foods, an organic health food company in Orem.

"We went over to Kenya about 10 years ago on a Choice Humanitarian visit and helped out with building a well and a school. Then we started our microcredit program there and it has grown to be a savings and loan program for 17,000 ladies in Kenya," Pope said.

A Provo native, Pope and his wife are now building a house in Kenya and plan to spend eight to nine months a year in the country for the rest of their lives.

"This is not a vacation. We're starting several businesses there primarily to help rural entrepreneurs in Kenya help lift themselves out of poverty. In addition to the coconut oil factory, we've started a purified water selling business to help the very poor there, and to create jobs," Pope said.

Founded in 1999, Yehu Microfinance provides micro-loans, which can be used to start or expand small businesses, as well as some business training, micro-insurance and other services.

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