Model & Strategy
Sanergy uses a hybrid for-profit/nonprofit structure to create access to sustainable sanitation by building low-cost, high-quality toilets designed for urban slums. The toilets are distributed and serviced through a network of franchise partners: local residents who operate, maintain and market the toilets. Next, the waste is collected every single day by trained and equipped Sanergy staff and brought back to their waste management facility. The waste is converted into byproducts such as organic fertilizer or renewable energy that will be sold for a profit to commercial farms and the grid.
Co-founders Ani Vallabhaneni, Lindsay Stradley, and David Auerbach hold MBAs from MIT Sloan. They lived in Nairobi for 6years. They have been awarded fellowships from Echoing Green, Rainer Arnhold, Ashoka, GLG, Guggenheim and Legatum.
In January of 2010, with support from an award from MIT, Ani Vallabhaneni and his founding team arrived in Nairobi to answer a fundamental question: How could they solve a dangerous and intractable problem such as the sanitation crisis facing urban slums? In Kenya, they visited expensive, large toilet blocks built by well-meaning NGOs that quickly went into disrepair because there was a lack of incentives and business skills, as well as extremely poor technology and design.
Sanergy’s model was born from the idea to create a system that seamlessly addressed the entire sanitation value chain: from the provision of hygienic sanitation to the safe collection and processing of human waste. The enterprise would franchise a network of clean, compact sanitation facilities to community members, collect the waste with unrivaled high-quality customer service and convert the aggregated waste into in-demand products – fertilizers, soil additives, electricity, animal feed and plastics.
Poor sanitation is the second largest cause of disease in the world and affects 4.1B people, particularly those living in densely populated slums. Sanergy’s Fresh Life Toilets (FLT) offer a safe, dignified, and scalable solution to sanitation in urban slums while creating jobs.
Sanergy has a network of 3,200 FLTs serving over 120,000 residents per day with hygienic sanitation, removing over 10,000 tons of waste per year, while creating more than 1,500 jobs in an area with a 40% unemployment rate.
Sanergy’s model costs $26 per person per year, compared to sewers which cost at least $56 per person per year. Of the $26, half is covered by market forces, significantly reducing the cost to governments to provide these services.
Over the next five years, Sanergy will work with municipal governments to offer urban slum residents a range of sanitation solutions at a very affordable cost per person per year.
By the end of 2020, Sanergy will operate a network of 5,000 FLTs (serving 200,000 residents), safely remove 20,000mt of waste per year, as well as create over 2,000 jobs.
BBC News Profiles Sanergy’s Model for Providing Sustainable Urban SanitationNearly a third of the world’s population still has no access to safe, hygienic sanitation. This means they have to go the toilet out in…Jan 2016
The Grinnell Prize Honors SIRUM and Sanergy as Young Nonprofit Leaders Serving Community NeedsThe 2014 Grinnell Prize of $100,000 was awarded to four recipients, recognizing two nonprofits and their work related to social justice. The winners, as announced…Oct 2014