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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More