India: Sulabh features in UNDP report on business strategies that engage the poor

Sulabh International ‘s work on low-cost sanitation in India and abroad was chosen as one of the 50 successful business models for targetting the poor that feature in UNDP’s new report “Creating Value for All: Strategies for Doing Business with the Poor” released on 1 July 2008. The full case study “Sulabh International: A Movement to Liberate Scavengers by Implementing a Low-Cost, Safe Sanitation System (India)” reviews the positive outcomes for the poor, key constraints and key strategies used.

In 2005, Sulabh’s revenues, mainly from the construction of household latrines and pay-per-use public toilets, reached nearly Rs 1250 million (US$32 million) with a 15 percent surplus (i.e. approximately US$5 million).  The surplus was used to run social programmes.

The case study not only deals with the successes of Sulabh but also addresses criticism of its approach  and some failures, such as the termination of its contract by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to maintain 1,953 public toilets in the city. Other players, like SPARC (Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centers), Fumes International  and Gram Vikas, emerged in 2004/2005 to challenge Sulabh’s monopoly in working with state governments.

Sulabh’s founder, Bindheshwar Pathak, revealed his new vision for the organisation in which it would move away from implementation and focus on the establishment of Sulabh’s Sanitation University. Sulabh was cultivating 23 non-profit organizations started by former employees to implement and run projects in its place, a trend Pathak expected to continue.

One response to “India: Sulabh features in UNDP report on business strategies that engage the poor

  1. Mr.pathak has done great service to the lowest caste in the Indian social system where even NGOs are elitist in their approach;moving away from this grass roots work to starting a sanitation university will be a loss to the bhangi community.

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