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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid