SanEco Community Interest Company

SanEco Community Interest Company: Licensing community owned sanitation micro-enterprises

Southampton, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Tackling poverty, lack of basic amenities and dependency cultures created by handout culture. Through licensing sustainable micro-enterprises to social sector organisations. The solutions are delivered through businesses owned by people in the community and address basic health and sanitation needs.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if there was no more hand-outs but rather social business, no more dependency but rather independence?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The problem is the lack of basic amenities available to communities in the developing world. In particular; the lack of affordable sanitary towels, meaning girls miss up to 25% of their education. The contamination of water sources due to pit latrines and their potential to collapse in schools. Underpinning this is the lack of opportunity for economic empowerment for those in need and the dependency cultures created by those trying to solve it.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The solution, sustainable and scalable micro-enterprises, owned by people in the community, supplying a product to benefit their communities: Sanitary towel making & selling businesses. Composting toilets located in schools providing safe hygiene facilities which prevent closure by governments and provide employment converting human waste into commercially viable fertilizer. The businesses have been piloted for 3 years in Enactus. These microfinanced enterprises have been packaged into ‘businesses in a box’ sold as licenses to the social sector, converting previously unsustainable hand-out operations, to that of true empowerment and sustainable impact. Creating profit to sustain our workforce and fund more micro-enterprises.


Enactus World cup winners - During the pilot stage in Enactus these micro-enterprises were presented in Johannesburg at the World Cup, Unilever made by you award, Tesco female empowerment award, SETsquared Best Social Enterprise
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

As an in-depth example, let us tell one person's story: Gladys joined our Sanitary Towel pilot in 2013. The pilot was part-time to avoid potential negative impact on family income. As a widow Gladys struggled to financially support her 2 children. However since running her business Gladys has supplied over 1,000 women and girls with sanitary towels and used the profit to educate her children. Gladys markets the towels by teaching menstrual health in schools, educating over 2,000 children. When the enterprises evolved into one community cooperative Gladys gravitated into leadership. The business has employed 13 new single mothers, showing a dramatic change in confidence. This proves the scalability and empowerment potential of the model.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Gladys’s story is just one of 139 entrepreneurs, most of which are single parents, who have collectively impacted over 40,000 people, prevented 8 schools from closing down, converted over 40 tons of human waste, provided over 7,000 women with sanitary towels and kept over 7,000 children in education since 2013. These enterprises are also drive equality, create jobs for women and provide a safe menstrual management product. This impact is solely from the pilot. By working with Gladys and the other entrepreneurs we have evolved the business models to build our licences and produce a greater, more measurable and sustainable impact. These licenses allow to create a global network of corporates, NGOs and communities to distribute our solutions and connect isolated communities together so learnings can be spread and new solutions can be quickly delivered to communities who need them.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We are entering a social impact accelerator populated with experienced individuals to mentor, support and help to shape the scaling of our business. The Licences are carefully structured to ensure they are simple but long term effective. The concepts for scaling are simple, proven and robust, therefore the licensing strategy should enable relatively rapid expansion and be effective in adapting to local cultures, whilst retaining strong overall control of the quality and business direction. Starting in Kenya, our forecasted impact for 1, 3 and 5 years is 8,500, 191,000 and 932,000 lives.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Two primary revenue streams: The license fees, purchased mainly by charities with the price dependent on territory size. CSR operations management, working with CSR departments to align their mission to their company's values and supplying them with licenses, connections with charities, opportunities for employee engagement and consultancy on social enterprise creation. Through this we aim to achieve financial breakeven by 2017

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many organisations offer CSR opportunities and companies like AFRIpads compete with our solutions. What we offer is a complete solution for communities and organisations. We are addressing SDG 17 by creating a global network committed to distributing fundamental solutions. Most importantly, the micro-enterprises we license are sustainable and scalable as they are owned by people in the local community as businesses which provide a livelihood to and employ local people while,giving people the basic amenities they require, improving education and creating economic growth.

Founding Story

In this story there is no “Aha!” moment when we realised the potential but rather it was like peeling back the layers with each new iteration of the businesses and the developing impact we saw in Enactus. Once we found through opportunistic moments that charities were willing to purchase a license to use our models in their communities we then realised the route to scale for the enterprises. When it finally came time to graduate we realised we did not want to take the graduate route that everyone around us was taking but rather continue the work that had been occurring in Enactus backed by business mentors, the university, Enactus UK, Social enterprise UK and of course Enactus Southampton.


The team is made up of two full time employees, myself and Bradley Heslop. Although we both studied the same degree and have histories in Enactus, we have the perfect combination of traits from being near opposite people, which is often described as “one of the strongest co-founder partnerships”. Where we lack some knowledge is in long term commercial experience, this is where our board members and fellow co-founders come in with a combined total of 47 directorships and success in multiple commercial sectors. The final and most important part of the team is Enactus Southampton, for it is the origin of the business. The team’s creativity and passion for new ideas followed up with tangible action, makes it the perfect personal development environment and thus, for us, the first point of call for recruitment and expansion of the business. Management team: Adam Boxer MEng Aerospace Engineering Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Co-Founder Socii Ltd, Ex-Director of Project Innovation, Enactus Southampton. Bradley Heslop MEng Aerospace Engineering, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Co-Founder Socii Ltd, Ex-Vice-President International, Enactus Southampton. Board members: Steve Bedford, Ex-COO, Storehouse Plc, Founder and Ex-CEO Build-a-bear UK. Chris Richards, Deputy Chairman Ospreys, Founder and Ex-CEO ECO2. Team: Enactus Southampton - the origin of the ideas and the ultimate ideas incubator, as well as a great source of employees and interns.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

On LinkedIn

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

As a part of Enactus Southampton I set up the first social project incubator Project Innovation, focussing on taking ideas from concept to fruition. In my role as Director of Project Innovation I led a team of 49 students from a range of different backgrounds all working towards creating social businesses.
Alongside this I was one of the founding team of the SanEco project from which this business is born. I have travelled three times to Kisii and Kisumu, Kenya where the project is located to work on these micro-enterprises. This has given me deeper understanding of the businesses in the context of their communities and allowed me to lead the development of the soap solution currently being piloted in Enactus Southampton.
I have also co-founded Socii which offers bespoke consultancy on social enterprise, sustainability and social innovation. Giving me an experience of working with other social businesses and organisations trying to integrate social businesses into what they do.
I am part of the management team starting a social impact accelerator backed by the University of Southampton where the student enterprise projects can become scalable social businesses. It is in this accelerator that our business will receive access to mentors, scrutiny and funding opportunities.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Peter Holbrook
CEO, Social Enterprise UK

Chris Arnold
CEO, World Merit

Andrew Bacon
CEO, Enactus UK

Corporate relationships:
University of Southampton