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Five Cents for a Clean Toilet: Sanergy Brings Sustainable Sanitation to Urban Slums

May 28, 2015 by Judith Magyar 0

The-Disruptors_Sanergy-story_2Across the world, over 2.5 billion people lack access to hygienic sanitation and have to use shacks like these instead. In the developed world we are horrified by pictures like these shacks that serve the biological needs of millions of slum dwellers around the world.

For us, clean water, sanitation and hygienic waste removal are so common we take it completely for granted. Yet in this day and age, over 2.5 billion people lack access to hygienic sanitation worldwide. Lack of sanitation is the second largest cause of disease globally, and untreated waste leads to contaminated waterways and food supply, causing immense environmental damage.

Stumbling blocks or stepping stones?

The-Disruptors_Sanergy-story_1Where others fear to tread, David Auerbach, CEO of Sanergy, is changing lives. That’s why he was selected to participate in a new SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship program announced recently at the SAP Forum in Nairobi.

Auerbach comes from a family of social workers, teachers and theologians who often fought for social justice, but his father was also a businessman. This powerful combination inspired him to build a business that provides a complete, integrated sanitation value chain that not only provides clean facilities but collects and treats waste sustainably, selling it to local farmers as fertilizer.

The-Disruptors_Sanergy-story_3

The beauty of the model

Best of all, Sanergy is creating jobs while cleaning up the environment. The company works through a network of Fresh Life Operators – local residents who purchase and operate the sanitation facilities. The operators become franchise partners who receive access to training and financing, ongoing operational and marketing support, and a daily waste collection service from Sanergy. The franchise operators in turn generate local demand and ensure that the facilities are kept clean.

Customers can pay by the visit, which costs about five cents, or weekly or monthly. Some parents even buy monthly memberships for children who attend schools with inadequate sanitation facilities. Other families buy a monthly family membership to their neighborhood Fresh Life Toilet. The impact is enormous: jobs, sanitation and a new sense of pride in the community.

Social impact with SAP support

Small businesses contribute significantly to driving economic growth in emerging markets, helping to reduce unemployment and solve critical social issues, but entrepreneurs like Auerbach need all the help they can get.

“The SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship is designed to address the early stage pain points faced by these young entrepreneurs,” says Nico VanExel, Global Director at SAP CSR. “The program offers them strategy and leadership development workshops along with networking opportunities and access to SAP experts and leaders.”

Stay tuned for more stories about SAP’s engagement with emerging entrepreneurs.

@magyarj

The Disruptors is a series of short stories of customer innovation from around the world.

Read more stories from The Disruptors series.

Images via Sanergy

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