Flying toilet is not a myth. Very early in the morning, a young girl about 10 years, drags herself from a shanty facing a huge heap of waste materials. She walks over a drainage filled with stagnant water. On her left hand she’s holding a green paper bag. She looks on the sides and throws it over her neighbors house. The look on her face shows displeasure. The road was muddy and the sewage flooded on the door. Anyway, that’s a story for another day. Clean environment is very important. However, slum dwellers adopt to poor sanitation.
As these people seem to live on the edge of poverty, a company called Sanergy has established low-cost improved sanitation facilities, branded Fresh Life Toilets. The company would like to improve sanitation in the slums. The company franchises the toilets to people living in the slums, but the toilets are not free. The guys operating them have to make profit since it’s a business not non-profit entity.
Sanergy has incorporated innovative mobile and web technologies to increase efficiency in the business to promote proper sanitation. If you want to take part in the toilet business, you need to pay an initial capital of Sh50,000 which is paid to Sanergy for the establishment of toilets in different locations. However, most people can’t afford due to increased poverty, so Sanergy links the interested parties with KIVA. KIVA is a non-profit micro-lending organization in the US. It’s an online platform established in 2005 that allows people to lend money via the Internet to entrepreneurs in low income settings focusing on initiatives that alleviate poverty.
“Profiles of potential borrowers are put online on the KIVA website. And sometimes even within days or hours, they are able to get required funds which are channelled to them through us,” said Ms Edith Karimi, sanitation expert at Sanergy.
Loan repayment is facilitated by Sanergy. The company receives the money and remits it back to the KIVA lenders.
Over 200 slum dwellers have benefited from these loans leading to the establishment of over 700 toilets in Mukuru and the creation of numerous sanitation-related jobs in the area.
According to Business daily, the online lending platform has helped many people since they don’t have to tolerant the stressful proposals that banks give before lending. Ideally, banks always consider the economic status of a person before giving them a loan, which is hectic if you are coming from a slum. Essentially, most people have embraced paperless banking like M-Shwari.
“Before, I used to store money in a tin under the bed. The cash wasn’t safe there. Besides, I would always be tempted to spend it. But now I can’t afford to be careless with my spending as I will incur charges each time I make withdrawals,” said Ms Esther Munyiva, an entrepreneur operating the Fresh Life toilets at Mukuru.
The fresh life toilets have employed many people in the slum and improved their sanitation.