Venture: Sanergy

Mission: Making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible.

Investment: $1 million unrestricted grant

Investment Year: 2019

How unrestricted funding allows Sanergy to create manufacturing capabilities for scale

Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation services affordable for the 4.1 billion people in the developing world who today lack access.

Sanergy’s two-tiered model—manufacturing and operating public toilets in Nairobi’s Kibera slum; and treating, converting, and selling waste as valuable end products—served more than 200,000 Kenyans at a cost 5x lower than traditional sewage models in 2020.

Why We’re Invested:

When Sanergy needed to increase the scale of their toilet manufacturing capabilities to meet growing demand and reduce production costs—necessitating a shift in their existing wet-cast manufacturing process to a more efficient, lower-cost, dry-cast process—they struggled to find funding. Grant funding for capital expenditures, like purchasing the kind of fabrication machinery Sanergy needed, is notoriously difficult to find, as funders generally seek to fund direct program work that can be more simply quantified by the number of people-served.

Rippleworks recognizes that innovative ideas require innovative financing. Without a willingness by funders to invest in capex needs, ventures like Sanergy are stuck. Unable to make substantive, upfront purchases that enable transformative growth, inflection opportunities become pain points as ventures struggle to raise funds for projects, programs, and purchases that fall outside their core impact models.

Ongoing Impact:

With a $1 million unrestricted grant from Rippleworks, Sanergy was able to fully transition to a new dry-cast production model, increasing their production capacity by 4x and allowing the organization to scale up in new counties across Kenya. Now, Sanergy has the economies of scale it needs to compete directly with traditional, ineffective and costly municipal sewer systems and is charting a path toward growth that includes government buy-in, reaching people across Kenya, and expanding to other countries.

Serving more than 200,000 Kenyans at a cost 5x lower than traditional sewage models

More About Sanergy:

To realize their vision of building healthy, prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible, Sanergy operates two distinct entities: for-profit and nonprofit. Sanergy’s nonprofit provides a public good in the form of clean sanitation by manufacturing, operating, and maintaining leased public toilets in Nairobi’s slums. The for-profit provides the logistics and transportation to treat, convert, and sell waste as valuable end-products (e.g. organic fertilizer, insect-based animal feed). The for-profit’s main source of waste is Sanergy’s nonprofit; it also provides waste collection services to other groups, like local farms.

Sanergy is working to demonstrate to governments around the world that their solution is a cost-effective way to reach populations that are currently disconnected from traditional sewage solutions. With government uptake of Sanergy’s model, communities have the potential to reach an 80 percent saturation level for sanitation services—i.e. when 80 percent of a community has access to sanitation services—the tipping point for dramatic drops in waterborne illness and associated deaths.

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