Sanivation is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the health and environment of urbanising communities in East Africa through clean, safe and efficient sanitation services. The company installs modern container-based toilets in people’s homes for free and charges a small monthly fee to service them. Then, instead of dumping the waste, it transforms it into a clean-burning alternative to charcoal. This allows families living in urbanising communities throughout East Africa to live a modern and healthy life.

How they’re disrupting

By enabling people to have a toilet in their own home, Sanivation is providing privacy, convenience and security (especially to women and children) that public toilets do not. This sanitation service also removes infectious waste from communities, helping to reduce diarrheal disease, which is the second leading cause of death for children. Sanivation will be developing treatment factories that utilises the fecal sludge as an input for a profit-generating product – a charcoal substitute briquette. The fuel saves their clients’ money, reduces CO2 emissions, and prevents the contamination of local water sources. The model is also licensed to refugee camps to help meet the demand for rapidly and locally deployable sanitation services.

Disruption potential

Sanivation has already identified 17 communities within Kenya that meet their criteria for sanitation needs, presenting a total $160 million annual market opportunity for sanitation services alone. They estimate there are 117 rapidly urbanising communities in East Africa that present a $1 billion market opportunity for sanitation services. While 80% of urban Kenyans rely on charcoal, a fuel with harmful impacts on health and environment, human waste and agricultural biomass can meet 50% of their fuel needs sustainably. With over 60 tons sold, demand for Sanivation briquettes is outpacing supply because they are providing an improved product that saves customers money. Plus, by displacing charcoal, their briquettes save 88 trees for every ton sold, combating deforestation.

Investments and future

To date, Sanivation has received grant capital from funders including National Geographic, The Stone Family Foundation, Unilever, and Grand Challenges Canada, among others. It’s Sanivation’s ambition to help urbanising communities go from 95% waste disposed untreated to 0%, improving their health, economic, and environmental well-being.