Caroline Ashley – Toilet Teachings: 2 Toilet Ventures Illustrate Strategies For Success In Inclusive Business

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Photo: March 18, 2013

I’ve learned more than I ever expected about toilets the past 6 months. But understanding toilet ventures has taught me a lot about how inclusive business works.

In fact, the challenges and innovations that we can see in two sanitation projects in slums of Kenya and India illustrate typical issues for businesses that are solving a ‘problem’ and meeting a ‘need’ in a market where this is not yet expressed as ‘demand’.

3S Shramik is working in Pune and other cities in India, supported by the Business Innovation Facility, and Sanergy is in Nairobi slums, supported by Innovations Against Poverty. Both ventures are developing business models for private provision of sanitation in slums, covering everything from careful toilet design to evacuation of waste.

The current health affects of poor sanitation are clear and huge. But slum dwellers are used to open defecation or low quality public/community toilet blocks, both usually free. Current provision is inadequate but it’s not customary to pay fees to use toilets. So what are they doing to build demand, change attitudes and habits, and find a revenue-cost model that will be sustainable?

Here are 6 of their strategies for success:

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