Tackling the Challenges of Urban Sanitation: A Social Enterprise Model

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The World Health Organisation estimates that 2.6 billion people still lack access to adequate sanitation, fuelling diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis A and severe diarrhoea, which alone are responsible for 1.5 million deaths every year, mostly among children under five living in developing countries. Inadequate access to sanitation services and poor hygiene practices kill and sicken thousands more every day.

Grass roots movements are needed to build a demand for cleanliness, hygiene and proper sanitation in low-income urban communities. The value of investing just small amounts in cleaning, especially for toilets, is often not fully understood.

SC Johnson saw an opportunity to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of low-income communities by piloting business model innovation. SC Johnson deployed its expertise as one of the world’s leading producers of household cleaning products and helped build a new community-based cleaning business to offer a variety of cleaning services at a low cost.

By leveraging resources and expertise from within the company, local entrepreneurs, and social sector partners, SC Johnson was able to develop a ready-to-use solution to meet the challenges of ongoing toilet management and maintenance.

The initiative was launched in 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya. The resulting social enterprise, Community Cleaning Services (CCS) was established in 2007. CCS is a micro-franchise distribution platform offering awareness creation, training, quality assurance, product supply and marketing support to sanitation service providers who are delivering toilet cleaning services in Nairobi’s poorest communities.

In order to clean the toilets, CCS purchases SC Johnson products under the Toilet Duck® and Mr. Muscle® brands, then sells them on to the local entrepreneurs who are independent members of CCS. SC Johnson delivers the products to CCS in barrels, not consumer packaging and helped CCS create packaging and a distribution model that “closes the loop” on packaging waste within the CCS business reducing costs and nearly eliminating packaging waste.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health, social enterprise