How A Toilet Franchise Business Is Cleaning Up Kenya’s Slums
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Sanergy is a social enterprise that’s building out a sanitation network in Nairobi, Kenya. It designs its own toilets, franchises them out to entrepreneurs (who charge people to use them), then converts the waste into fertilizer that it sells to farmers. Started by MIT graduates, Sanergy takes a business approach, based on the premise that people will pay to use toilets if you make them clean and sturdy enough.
We first spoke to co-founder David Auerbach back in November 2011 as it was launching its first cubicle. Its since sold 734 toilets to 362 “Fresh Life operators” in two slums, Mukuru and Mathare. Auerbach says they’re now used 33,000 times a day and that, so far, Sanergy has collected more than 6,000 tons of waste.
“We’ve shown that people are willing to pay if their demands are met, which means clean toilets, close to where they are living, at an affordable price. The fact that the toilets are run by peers in their community gives them added credibility,” Auerbach says.