News / Africa

Non-Profit, Entrepreneurs Pair Up for Clean Toilet Micro Loans in Kenya

Fresh Life Frontline member Bernard Mutuku stands next to waste collection containers at the processing facility in the industrial area of Nairobi, Kenya, September 11, 2012. (J. Craig/VOA)
Fresh Life Frontline member Bernard Mutuku stands next to waste collection containers at the processing facility in the industrial area of Nairobi, Kenya, September 11, 2012. (J. Craig/VOA)
Jill Craig
In Kenyan slums, residents lack good sanitation options. In fact, they're typically faced with two distinct options: The infamous “flying toilet,” whereby people defecate into a thin polyurethane sack, tie it up and throw it outside, or the public toilet, which costs between four and six cents per use, and is usually overflowing with filth.
 
Either option, of course, has unique health and environmental consequences.
 
“In Nairobi, 90 percent of the waste is dumped into rivers," says David Auerbach, one of the co-founders of Sanergy, a manufacturer of low-cost sanitation facilities. "So what that actually means is four-million metric tons of waste every single year are going into open areas, which is a huge public health risk.”
 
While visiting the Mathare slum several years ago, Auerbach saw a local youth group running a toilet as a business. Although the idea was good, he says, the toilet needed improvements in terms of waste disposal.
 
This is when he and his Sanergy co-founders got the idea. “We build low-cost sanitation facilities, which we franchise to people in the community and they run them as businesses," he says.
 
Each Fresh Life toilet costs about $500, which includes training, marketing, branding, installation, demolition insurance and a daily waste collection service. The franchise owners are required to supply toilet paper, soap and a hand washing station for their patrons – amenities that are non-existent in public toilets. 
 
Then the Fresh Life Frontline, otherwise known as waste collectors, remove the waste on a daily basis and bring it to a centralized processing facility where it is turned into fertilizer. 
 
Given Sanergy’s close working relationships with its Fresh Life operators, and its emphasis on proper waste disposal, Kiva – a non-profit organization that facilitates microfinance loans for people in developing countries – took notice. The group has decided to partner Sanergy to release its first sanitation loans in East Africa.
 
According to Mac Parish, senior field support specialist for Kiva in Anglophone Africa, the group allows lenders to provide small amounts of money at zero-percent interest to designated projects.
 
“I think this story with Sanergy is incredibly compelling, [because] you really hit so many points on the value chain, of social value," he says. "You’re providing sanitation in slums; you are providing employment in slums; you’re sustaining entrepreneurship within these areas; you’re then collecting the waste, turning it into fertilizer, creating organic fertilizer and, hopefully, in the future, creating energy from this waste as well.”
 
In the slums of Mukuru, where the Fresh Life toilets are being introduced, residents are excited about the initiative.
 
Mercyline Atieno, who recently bought a Fresh Life toilet with the assistance of a Kiva loan, is a 42-year-old mother of eight and grandmother of one who also supports seven orphans. 
 
She wants to use the proceeds from her business to send the orphans – especially the girls – to school.
 
“You see, people prefer to go to [the] Fresh Life toilet and they offer to pay five shillings rather than pay three shillings to go to the dirty toilet," she says, explaining that her toilet is a noticeably better product than what is currently available, giving her confidence in its profitability. "This toilet will change [the] life of the slum people because even them, they want good things. They don’t want those bad things.”
 
While Parish says some Kiva lenders may be hesitant to support a toilet business, since Kiva is better known for providing loan access to farmers, shopkeepers and more traditional entrepreneurs, he thinks they will appreciate the broader community benefits.
 
“Sanitation is such a pressing issue," he says. "A toilet is not a sexy loan. It’s a toilet. Right? But the impact that that toilet can have and the ripple effect, because of the fact that that toilet is a Fresh Life toilet and Sanergy is the one operating it, I think it’s huge. What Kiva has to do as we restructure these profiles and we structure the content around Sanergy is to make sure that we’re giving the full story to our lenders.”
 
Sanergy has already franchised 86 Fresh Life toilets to 50 entrepreneurs in Mukuru, and the company plans to expand to other slums.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid