Tag Archives: social entrepreneurs

Indestructible and smart: public toilet innovation in India

An interview with sanitation entrepreneur Mayank Midha.


Stainless steel GARV Ttoilets and Mayank Midha

As a child, Mayank Midha remembers how his mother and sister suffered during long distance journeys in India. They had to “hold themselves up” because there were hardly any decent public toilets on the way.

There is still a shortage of well-maintained public toilets in India, says Mayank. This affects women and girls most. Men can more easily urinate or defecate in the open.

Indestructible toilets

On 7 September 2016, Mayank Midha won the Sanitation Innovation Accelerator 2016, a search for an inclusive and sustainable solution for rural sanitation in India. The judges praised Mayank for developing an indestructible smart toilet, which is much cheaper than comparable models without comprising on quality.

Mayank has been in the manufacturing business for the past seven years. As an engineer with a post-graduate degree in rural management, he is interested in technical solutions for the poorest people at the “Base of the Pyramid” (BoP). After completing a project to manufacture telecom enclosure panels, he saw three spare panels lying in the factory. Their structure  made Mayank think, why not change some specifications and use them to construct Portable Smart Toilets?

After a year a prototype was ready in 2015 and in 2016 the stainless steel insulated GARV Toilet was born. Solar panels power LED lights and exhaust fans inside the toilet. Using stainless steel for the superstructure, toilet pans, and washbasins has multiple advantages: the units are vandal-proof, easy to clean and they don’t rust. This means a higher shelf-life with lower operating costs.

Continue reading

The Bangladesh Paradox: exceptional health and sanitation advances despite poverty

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC on the Bangladesh public health miracle, aid or trade, arsenic, floating latrines and the post-2015 development agenda.

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC presents the "Bangladesh Paradox", International Water House, The Hague, Yje Netherlaands, 30 July 2014

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC presents the “Bangladesh Paradox”, International Water House, The Hague, The Netherlands, 30 July 2014

By Cor Dietvorst and Vera van der Grift, IRC
Originally posted on the IRC web site, 01 August 2014

Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in the fields of health and sanitation. With a population of 149 million, it now has the highest life expectancy; the lowest fertility rate and the lowest mortality rate of children under five in South Asia (excepting Sri Lanka), although it spends less on health care than most neighbouring countries. Only 10% of the population in Bangladesh practices Open Defecation (OD) compared to 50% in India.

It is one of only six countries that are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

Emerging from the war of liberation in 1971, Bangladesh embraced a new more liberal identity, which manifested itself in a change in societal attitudes towards women, and girls’ education in particular.

Continue reading

Two Indian sanitation social ventures receive US$ 50K in funding

A sanitary pad manufacturer and a human waste management company are among the nine winners of the Artha Venture Challenge (AVC) 2013. All of them will receive up to US$ 50,000 (INR 3 million) in funding from the Artha Platform subject to due diligence and investment approval.

Anandi sanitation pad

Photo: Aakar Innovations

Award winner Aakar Innovations is a Delhi-based start-up that supplies raw materials and sanitary pad mini-factories to women’s groups in rural areas. Costing US$ 5,000, each mini-factory can produce 1500-2000 pads per day, which is enough to provide work to 10-30 women. The biodegradable Anandi pads are  made from agri-waste. One pack of 8 pads sells for 20 rupees (US$ 0.33), said to be 40% less than branded mass-market products.

Banka BioLoo is a women led business from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, providing sustainable solutions for sanitation and wastewater managment based on biotechnology. It manufactures, supplies and installs biodigesters for on-site treatment of human waste.

The Artha Venture Challenge (AVC) is funded by the Artha Platform and its founding organisation Rianta Philanthropy Ltd.  AVC 2013 was inspired by the UK Big Venture Challenge run by UnLtd UK.

The Artha Platform is a members-only online community and network linking impact investors/donors, social entrepreneurs and capacity building support organisations working on or in India.


  • Anand Rai, A look at the 9 social ventures that will each receive $50K in funding as part of the Artha Venture Challenge 2013, techcircle.in, 11 Apr 2014
  • Cut from a different cloth, Economist, 14 Sep 2013

Garbage clinical insurance wins sustainability entrepreneur prize

Garbage Clinical Insurance: Young Indonesian Doctor Receives Award From Prince of Wales | Source/complete article – Establishment Post, Feb 12, 2014.

Excerpts – Gamal Albinsaid, a young Indonesian doctor, has recently been awarded the inaugural “Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize” from the Prince of Wales. He was given the award during a dinner reception at the Buckingham Palace at the end of January. His innovative project helps the poorest communities gain access to health services and education through the collection and recycling of garbage called the Garbage Clinical Insurance enterprise.

Photo: Courtesy of Indonesia Medika/Gamal Albinsaid Mr Gamal Albinsaid received his award from HRH Prince of Wales during a dinner reception at the Buckingham palace  at the end of January 2014.

Photo: Courtesy of Indonesia Medika/Gamal Albinsaid
Mr Gamal Albinsaid received his award from HRH Prince of Wales during a dinner reception at the Buckingham palace at the end of January 2014.

Mr Albinsaid, currently the chief executive officer (CEO) of Indonesia Medika, is the Founder of the Indonesian social enterprise Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI). He was inspired to set up the micro-insurance programme to empower people to take an active role in managing their waste while improving their sanitation.

The 24-year-old doctor set up the initiative in 2009 when he was still a medical student at the Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java province. Mr Albinsaid was saddened upon hearing the death of a three year old child from diarrhea because the parents could not afford to take the child to any clinic for help.

The GCI has help communities in need turn in their household waste into something that could improve their health.

The scheme provides insurance to members of the clinic in return for their garbage.  Every weekend, members bring their organic and non-organic waste to a collection point near the clinic to be directly processed and sold.

Afterward, collected garbage is processed into money considered as “health fund premium” for all members.