Sanivation, household sanitation and energy services to the urban poor

We had a chance to catch up with Andrew Foote, the founder and entrepreneur behind Sanivation. Part of the Hivos sponsored Green Pioneer Accelerator, the Sanivation team is currently engaged in an intensive acceleration program hosted by our partners Growth Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. Want to meet this company in person? Join our upcoming Venture Forum Tuesday the 9th of June 2015.

Please pitch your business?

“Sanivation provides household sanitation and energy services to the urban poor. Instead of charging high rates to install a toilet we’re installing toilets for free and charging to service them. We then unlock the value within the collected waste to produce a clean burning charcoal briquette.”

What inspired you to start this?

“There has been a lot of progress in development in the past 10 years. Now, over 7 out of 10 Kenyans have access to a cell phone. However, there hasn’t been a lot of progress in toilets. Less than 1 out of 10 Kenyans have access to a household flush toilet. With toilets being one of the most effective public health inventions and impacting the environment, health, dignity, energy and livelihoods, I didn’t think this important work should be left to a traditional international development approach. We’re applying a local and modern business approach to improving health and dignity at the bottom of the pyramid.”

What problem are you solving?

“Current sanitation solutions are not meeting the needs and aspirations of the urban poor. Over 1,000 children die every day because they don’t have access to a toilet.”

Can you describe your target market? What is the size of business opportunity?

“With over 2 out of 5 of the world not having access to a toilet the target market is quite large. We are currently focusing on urban areas and refugee camps in East Africa. We’ve identified over 20 target communities within Kenya that have a market opportunity of over $67 million per year in Kenya and over $433 million per year in East Africa.”

What is the innovation you bring about? What is the impact opportunity?

“We’re aiming to impact and address the entire value chain in sanitation allowing us to be rapidly scalable. Instead of charging high rates to install toilets, we install toilets inside of people’s homes for free and charge low monthly rates to service them, just like the cell-phone providers. Then, instead of cutting costs by disposing waste in unregulated areas, we create revenue by containing waste and transforming it into charcoal briquettes. We see large potential to impact health, dignity, and the environment through household sanitation and transforming waste into a valuable product.”

Please highlight what has been achieved so far. What are the key milestones?

“We’ve been fortunate to have traction in our two markets, refugee camps and urban communities. Thanks to the support of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNHCR, we’ve piloted our approach in Kakuma Refugee Camp. We were able to train refugees how to build and operate our model for sanitation in just over a month. In urban communities, we’ve had toilets in people’s homes for the past 8 months. We are operating at a 100% renewal rate for the toilets on a monthly subscription basis and have over 200 payments. We’re just beginning to launch and beta test our fuel but we already have repeat customers.”

Why did you join the Green Pioneer Accelerator and how are you leveraging this program?

“The Green Pioneer Accelerator has been a great network for Sanivation to refine our business model, meet fellow entrepreneurs, and really understand what it is going to take to grow our business to reaching 1 million people in the next 5 years.”

Where could you use additional support? How can the members of the VC4A community help you?

“We welcome anyone that wants to join our vision. We’re very interested in learning from people that have experience in branding aspirational products and logistics and supply chain networks in urban communities in Kenya.”

Do you have an ask for investors? What are you looking for? If you have raised capital in the past please mention this here.

“Right now we are raising a round of convertible debt and we will be raising our series A in the near future.”

What is your advise to other startup entrepreneurs out there?

“Be passionate about your work, ask for advice, stay humble, and build a great team.”

What do you feel needs to happen to spur more innovation in green?

“I’m excited about companies that take a long term approach to impact.”

Any final message to add?

“We’re excited about the entrepreneurship community that is building and want to be apart of it as much as we can. Feel free to contact me if I can help in any way.”

Want to meet this company in person? Join our upcoming Venture Forum Tuesday the 9th of June 2015.