WASTE TO ENERGY STARTUP – SANIVATION

sanivation-logo

Bathroom facilities are taken for granted and as a necessity in many developed nations in the world. However, for rural and under developed countries, having a mere toilet is a luxury that is unattainable by many. Lack of proper sanitary toilets is a leading cause of diseases as well as death.

Hence, the duo Andrew Foote and Emily Woods came up with an ingenious idea to supply not only home toilets but also use the wastes from it into environment friendly fuel. Foote and Woods both belong to Georgia Tech where they developed a method in 2011 to turn human excretions into fuel. It was discovered that briquettes made from human excretions were an efficient form of fuel that burned longer and released less smoke. This Kenyan company is now known as Sanivation.

Due to the poor infrastructure in Kenya, Foote and Woods had to offer a complete 360 degree approach whereby they install private container based toilets to homes as well as collect the waste and deliver it to the processing plant. Sanivation charges $7/month for their service and the container based toilet.

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Sanivation definitely had a great strategy going in favor of it however; no startup comes without its share of challenges.

OPEN LATRINES

The concept of toilets is an off putting topic that is hard to discuss with the locals. Moreover, in the rural areas the concept of private home based toilets is literally non-existent. In the rural areas, open latrines are the norm and with the word of toilet, the people pictured open latrines inside their homes. Hence, Sanivation changed its marketing strategy to encompass the term “blue boxes” to avoid the negative association that people had with “toilets.”

FINANCIAL ISSUE

Many people who make ends meet with great difficulty state that they cannot bear even the small cost of $7 per month for the sake of hygienic bathroom facilities. Convincing, those people about the usefulness and advantages of having a “blue box” toilet at home took time, perseverance and patience.

NO ADDRESSES

In these rural areas, there are many homes that exist without addresses. How can homes be differentiated without their addresses. Sanivation tackled this problem by creating addresses themselves for each house.

NO PLANT

It would be optimistic to think that a country that has no private bathroom would have a plant to treat human excretes.  Sanivation had to create a treatment plan from the ground up.

THE FUTURE

Sanivation has a bright future with up to 100 toilets being installed in Naivasha and plans of more in the future. The company also wants to provide private, clean and efficient bathroom facilities to refugee camps. The scale of the company is definitely not too large but that does not mean it has not been able to touch people’s lives. People are overwhelmed and thankful that they do not have to publicly squat over a feces and urine covered open “laterine”. The luxury to excrete privately and cleanly is a blessing indeed.

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