Tag Archives: Sanitation as a business

Water For People – Strengthening public sector enabling environments to support sanitation enterprises

Water For People – Strengthening public sector enabling environments to support sanitation enterprises, 2014.

Billions of people lack access to a decent toilet. Attempts to address this gap through direct-subsidy models have often been proven unsustainable as, given resource limitations, they are unable to provide desirable toilets that families are likely to use and maintain over time. Based on private sector success in low-income markets, business-based approaches may be able to help bridge this gap through sustainable market-based mechanisms and associated incentives to meet the needs and desires of lower-income households.

Water For People is piloting sanitation business approaches and seeks to discover under what conditions these approaches are successful. Public sector influence is one condition that has the potential to facilitate or hinder private sector sanitation endeavors. This study aims to understand: (1) how the public sector enabling environment can facilitate or hinder low-cost sanitation enterprises; and (2) how NGOs can effectively engage the public sector to support sanitation businesses. Data were collected from Water For People staff and partners in nine countries and summary case studies were coded to discover prevailing themes.

WASHplus Weekly: Focus on Sanitation as a Business

Issue 163 | Sept 26, 2014 | Focus on Sanitation as a Business

This issue highlights some recent reports, conference proceedings, catalogs, and blog posts on sanitation entrepreneurs, sanitation markets, and other sanitation as a business issues. Included are summaries of a conference in Uganda; a Hystra report on household mobile toilets; catalogs of sanitation business opportunities; and blog posts from Sanivation, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor Enterprises, and others.


Designing the Next Generation of Sanitation Businesses: A Report by Hystra for the Toilet Board Coalition, 2014. J Graf, Hystra. (Link)
This report discusses two models that combine an aspirational value proposition for base of the pyramid (BoP) families with a strong potential for financial sustainability. In rural areas, the authors analyzed projects that activate local rural sanitation markets. In urban areas, they analyzed initiatives servicing mobile home toilets. Based on an in-depth analysis of both the best practices and greatest challenges from a pool of 12 representative projects, the report suggests strategies to overcome challenges to sustainability and scale.

Sanitation Business Catalogue: Let’s Rapidly Scale Sanitation Services to the Poor!2014. APPSANI. (Link)
This catalog contains 27 business propositions of sanitation sector entrepreneurs from all over the world. Together, they offer a variety of services, and all of them are looking to consolidate or expand their business and bring sanitation services to scale for customers at the BoP. This catalog was compiled for the Sanitation Business Matchmaking event at the first BoP World Convention & Expo in Singapore, August 2014.

Ready for Funding: Innovative Sanitation Businesses, 2014. Aqua for All. (Link)
This document was developed to give insights into promising prospects in the sanitation sector in small towns and peri-urban areas in upcoming economies. The sanitation sector offers long term, slow, and stable return on investments. The challenge of the sanitation industry is to access to the right blend of financial products.

Sanitation as a Business: Unclogging the Blockages, 2014. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Link)
This report summarizes a two-day conference in Uganda. One of the results was recognition among participants of the importance of business- and market-based approaches as keys to address some of the main barriers for scaling sustainable sanitation solutions. While there is still a long way to go toward universal usage of these approaches, participants were able to get a much richer understanding of the principles and key tenets of how sanitation as a business programming works; many participants intended to go back to their respective environments and apply the lessons they had learned.

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Designing the next generation of sanitation businesses

Designing the next generation of sanitation businesses: a report by HYSTRA for the Toilet Board Coalition, 2014hystrasanitation_4pp_web-1

Fortunately, a number of market-based models have emerged in both rural and urban areas to address the sanitation crisis. They all serve the Base of the Pyramid in a sustainable manner by offering improved solutions, at a price that the poor are willing and able to pay. In this Report, we analyze two models that combine an aspirational value proposition for low-income families and a strong potential for financial sustainability: projects that facilitate the creation of a local, sanitation market in rural areas and enterprises servicing home mobile toilets in urban areas.

Based on an in-depth analysis of 12 projects representative of these two models, the Report suggests strategies to overcome challenges to sustainability and scale. Finally, the Report explores how these models would benefit from corporate and industrial expertise and resources, opening up opportunities for large corporations to contribute to solving the sanitation crisis.

Unclogging the Blockages in Sanitation


Perhaps one of the more ignored or misunderstood elements of water poverty by the general population and even the charitable sector is sanitation services. When you think about providing clean water, you conjure images of clear drinking water pouring out of a tap or buckets of well water used to water crops and serve livestock.

But then there’s the other stuff—the stuff that is not as pretty to think about or even to deal with, but is just as important—like unclogging toilets, and building latrines, and providing sanitary napkin containers and services for female students. That’s all sanitation.

The first Unclogging the Blockages conference organised by IRC, PSI, Water for People and WSUP Enterprises, took place on February 18-20, 2014 in Kampala, Uganda. More than 170 people from in and out of the sector and around the world came together to explore the various challenges for sanitation as a business (SAAB) and began working on short and long-term solutions.

Participants identified seven key components to SAAB: (1) public sector; (2) business models; (3) finance; (4) technology; (5) demand creation and behaviour change; (6) monitoring; and (7) intersectoral links.

For each component participants plotted out potential outcomes and ways forward based on their ideas and a 30-day challenge, for example:

Business Models
Blockage: lack of models that are pro-poor inclusive; lack of understanding of technology
Desired outcome: Consumer understanding/happiness: Families say, “The toilet is my favorite part of the house.”
30-Day Challenge: Know your customers deeply for better service and success. —Advocacy through creative formats, get to the point and make it attractive, prove we have results.

The full set of action plans with a detailed breakdown by tasks and groups responsible for each of the seven themes is in the Unclogging the Blockages report. The Conference report and an accompanying factsheet are available at: www.ircwash.org/resources/unclogging-blockages-sanitation-business

A full set of conference materials including Powerpoint presentations can be found on the SuSanA website at: www.susana.org/en/events/past-event-pages/details/8

Three articles published in the July 2014 edition of Waterlines emerged from the conference:

Mulumba, J.N., Nothomb, C., Potter, A. and Snel, M. 2014. Striking the balance : what is the role of the public sector in sanitation as a service and as a business? Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 195-210. DOI: 10.3362/2046-1887.2014.021

Rojas Williams, S.M. and Sauer, J. 2014. Unclogging the blockages in sanitation : in1ter-sector linkages. Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 211-219. DOI: 10.3362/1756-3488.2014.022

Sugden, S., 2014. Latrine design: go in peace. Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 220-239. DOI: 10.3362/1756-3488.2014.023

The business case for Base of the Pyramid sanitation

Ready for Funding: Innovative  sanitation businesses cover

The Sanitation Business Matchmaking Estafetta initiative has published a guide to business opportunities for sanitation in small towns and peri-urban areas in upcoming economies.

The sanitation sector offers long term, slow and stable return on investments and this can be a pearl in your portfolio. Moreover, sanitation services create social benefits which may be of interest for impact investors. The challenge of the sanitation industry is to access to the  right blend of financial products. Investors are invited to guide the sanitation industry in creating the conditions needed to realize ventures that prove to be attractive investment opportunities.

The guide targets investors, intermediaries and the private sector. It covers both household and public sanitation, as well as emptying & collection services, smart small sewerage, and treatment & reuse. Using Ghana as a case study, the guide presents a market analysis for sanitation investment opportunities for each of the before mentioned sanitation components and services.

Download Ready for Funding: Innovative sanitation businesses

Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

Microfinance allows middle- and lower-income households to invest in desirable sanitation products, so that public funding can be freed up to reach the poorest, according to Water for People (WfP). In a new report [1], WfP reviews their experiences in piloting various lending models in seven countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda.

The report provides lessons and recommendations for donors wishing to engage in sanitation microfinancing. The four key recommendations are:

  1. Think like a business
  2. Support lending institutions based on the microfinance climate and capacity needs
  3. Build an autonomous sanitation microfinance market
  4. Track progress and lessons

The report is part of WfP’s Sanitation as a Business (SaaB) program, funded by a Gates Foundation grant.

Read the full report

[1]  Chatterley, C. et al, 2013. Microfinance as a potential catalyst for improved sanitation : a synthesis of Water For People’s sanitation lending experiences in seven countries. Denver, CO,USA: Water For People. Available at: <http://www.waterforpeople.org/assets/files/sanitation-microfinance.pdf>

Source: Christie Chatterley et al., Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation, Water for People, 27 Dec 2013

BRAC WASH latrines will power business to turn faecal waste into energy

The BRAC WASH programme in Bangladesh is to conduct detailed planning to convert faecal matter from pit latrines into commercially viable fertiliser, biogas and electricity. The aim is to complete the sanitation chain by making material from millions of pit latrines safe and economically productive.

Babar Kabir, Senior Director of the BRAC WASH programme, says that there is a sound business case for investment in bio-energy units that could generate electricity on a large scale, but believes that investors must be in this for the long-term and that the most important payback will be improved health and sanitation.

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