Sanergy Turns Kenyan Toilets into Green Social Enterprises

 - Nov 22, 2011
Sanergy, whose name comes from a hybrid of the words sanitization and energy, is bringing sanitary toilets to the slums of Kenya, and hopes to turn them into a for-profit social enterprise.

In addition to bringing in low-cost sanitation centers, Sanergy collects waste daily, which is then used for fertilizer or processed into electricity. Sanergy is also setting up a franchising model that will allow regional entrepreneurs to set up their own centers with help from local microfinance banks.

Currently many Kenyan slums don't have toilets, and instead, about 70% of residents use holes in the ground. In slums around Nairobi, particularly in Kibera, it's not unlikely to comes across "flying toilets" -- grocery bags that are literally just thrown outside after being used as a makeshift toilet. A 2006 UN development Programme report said "two in three people [in Kibera] identify the flying toilet as the primary mode of excreta disposal available to them."

This is not only unsanitary, but is also a health hazard and environmental pollutant -- and a ripe opportunity for social innovation.

According the Sanergy website, "2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. The resulting disease & water pollution cause 1.7 million deaths & loss of $84 billion in worker productivity each year. In Kenya’s slums, 8 million people lack access to adequate sanitation."

Sanergy was founded by young social entrepreneurs David Auerbach, Nathan Cooke, Lindsay Stradley, Gaurav Tiwari, Ani Vallabhaneni and Joel Veenstra, a mix of current students and grads from MIT's Sloan School of Business.

Vallabhaneni, who is co-president of Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development, says "Nairobi’s become the Silicon Valley of shit," according to a GOOD article.

As the video above explains, Sanergy's solution is a long-term, scalable, four-part model, which will ultimately lead to job creation and energy production, and address multiple social issues.

Contact Information:
Sanergy website
Sanergy on Twitter
Sanergy on Facebook