Today, 10 million Kenyans live in slums and the number is growing at a rate of 7% a year. In these communities, 150 people typically share one toilet and 70% of residents are not connected to sewers. The result: widespread contamination of waterways and food supplies, leading to diseases that kill thousands every year.
Now, a new social enterprise based in Nairobi called Sanergy is taking an innovative, multi-pronged approach to the problem. Its engineers have created the Fresh Life Toilet, a sanitation system that collects waste cleanly and converts it into high-value byproducts.
These toilets are economic opportunities. Sanergy sells them to entrepreneurs called operators, who generate additional income for their families by charging an affordable rate for their neighbors to use the facilities.
Fresh Life Toilets serve families in a Nairobi slum.
The Sanergy system is based on four steps:
1) BUILD: Sanergy is building a network of small-scale, high-quality toilets that can be placed close to homes in urban slums.
2) FRANCHISE: Sanergy sells these toilets at affordable prices to local operators, providing them with training and ongoing support.
3) COLLECT: Sanergy employees called the “Fresh Life Front Line” collect waste from each toilet every day. Employees deposit double-sealed containers at a local processing facility and pick up clean replacements for the next day’s business.
4) CONVERT: Sanergy aims to convert the waste it collects into high-margin products, including electricity sold to the national grid, and organic fertilizer sold to commercial farms.
Starting now, Sanergy is posting loans on Kiva to help would-be toilet operators afford to buy the Fresh Life technology upfront. Loan terms are flexible, enabling these entrepreneurs to pay back what they owe with the income they make from providing toilet service.
Sanergy was founded by classmates in the Development Ventures course at the MIT Sloan School of Management. It's already been named an MIT100K Business Plan Winner, an Echoing Green Fellow and an African Leadership Network Fellow for its efforts.
Hear more about Kiva's partnership with Sanergy and its first borrowers on its excellent blog. You can also learn more about the organization on its Kiva partner profile page. Here's a video about how our partnership is working:
Have questions about Sanergy or other Kiva sanitation efforts? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.