Tech Inspirations


Sanergy Need

2.5 billion people lack access to hygienic sanitation. Inadequate and unhygienic sanitation is the second largest cause of disease in the world. It leads to contaminated waterways and food supply, as well as infections like diarrhea, which kills nearly 1.6 million children each year. The problem is particularly acute in slums, where over 1 billion people live. Slum residents are forced to rely on unsanitary options such as “flying toilets” (defecating into plastic bags that are then tossed onto the streets) and pit latrines that release untreated human waste into the environment.

Succeed Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible throughout Africa's informal settlements. By building an integrated sanitation value chain, Sanergy takes a systems-based approach to solve the sanitation crisis sustainably. This model begins with the design and use of low-cost, high-quality sanitation facilities called Fresh Life Toilets (FLTs). These toilets are hygienic, accessible, and affordable.

Since the FLTs are utilized in informal settlements, Sanergy has built a network of Fresh Life Operators (FLOs) – local residents who purchase and operate the hygienic sanitation facilities. The operators become franchise partners: Sanergy provides training, access to financing, on-going operational and marketing support, and a daily waste collection service. The FLO generates local demand and ensures that the FLT is kept clean.

Sanergy collects the waste on a regular basis. The waste is safely removed from the community by handcarts, and/or truck. The handcarts ensure that the team can install FLTs deep in informal settlements where there are only narrow, unpaved roads as access points. Sanergy, then converts the waste at a centralized facility into useful by-products such as organic fertilizer and renewable energy. Once the waste is converted, it is transferred to places such as farms that can use this cost-effective and sustainable fertilizer that increases crop yields by as much as 30%.

Success Story Sanergy experienced tremendous growth in 2014. The organization started the year with 372 toilets ran by 192 Fresh Life Operators. By the end of the year, Sanergy had successfully launched 623 franchises to 295 FLOs. These new franchises created 600 jobs - including positions with the Sanergy Team, Fresh Life Operators, and the new attendants that are hired as Sanergy expands its reach.

About the Founder

David Auerbach, Nathan Cooke, Lindsay Stradley, Ani Vallabhaneni and Joel Veenstra came up with the idea for Sanergy in the classrooms of MIT. They brought together a team of engineers and entrepreneurs to think about how they could extract value from waste. They figured that if there was value to be had from waste, they could create incentives at each step of the sanitation value chain (provision of hygienic sanitation, efficient waste collection and waste conversion) so that in the end, they could solve the sanitation crisis. As of January 2015, this innovative group has now opened up 618 Fresh Life Toilets in informal settlements that are receiving over 26,000 daily uses. So far, over 4,200 metric tons of waste have been safely removed and treated. And finally, they have over 600 new jobs. This team proves that there is value in addressing the sanitation crisis!