Social Impact Investing Shows Up in International Social Franchise Programs

In Kenya, approximately 8 million people live in settlements with little space and very limited resources, which presents significant difficulties for disposing of human waste. For defecating, Kenyans are typically required to either use plastic bags that are left in the streets, or to use outside latrines, which can cause substantial environmental harm.

Sanergy sought to have a significant social impact by improving sanitation conditions by providing portable toilets that are pre-manufactured, shipped, and installed in residential communities and other venues on a cost-efficient basis. Sanergy’s Fresh Life Toilet (FLT) is made of high-quality materials and easy to keep clean and maintain. More than 1,000 FLTs have been sold.

Sanergy provides its franchisees with the FLT (a customer pay-for-use toilet), as well as training, access to financing, ongoing operational and marketing support, and daily collection of the waste-filled cartridges from the FLT, replacing them with clean empty cartridges. Sanergy’s brand message is that people will pay to use the toilets if you make them clean and sturdy enough. Additionally, by aggregating teams of franchisees, Sanergy generates increased local demand for the FLT and ensures that FLT equipment is kept clean and maintained.

The cost of an FLT is approximately $500. Sanergy helps its franchisees finance the FLT interest-free through a partnership with Kiva, an online micro-lending platform, and promotes customer use of the FLT on radio and on murals in the Kenyan slums.