Sherina Munyana's New Entry

Sherina Munyana's New Entry: Market-based Sanitation Solutions

Kampala, UgandaKampala, Uganda
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Sanitation Solutions Group (SSG) is a social enterprise that aims to scale up improved sanitation by providing affordable sanitation products and services to low income households through the market. SSG trains local entrepreneurs in sanitation business models that address specific market needs.

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

What if local businesses could address the challenge of poor sanitation by offering affordable yet aspirational solutions to households and communities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project is trying to address the problem of poor sanitation for low income households and a lack of appropriate solutions. In Kampala alone, over 84% of the population are reliant on on-site sanitation facilities (pit latrines). However, the majority of pit latrines are unlined and in poor shape and 45% of latrines were found to be abandoned after 5 years of construction because they are either full or broken down, which leads to poor health

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

The proposed solution is to develop relevant sanitation business models that address specific challenges faced by low income households for example latrine construction, latrine upgrading and latrine emptying. Subsequently, local businesses will be trained to implement these models and provide relevant affordable solutions to households more sustainably through the market. As more businesses are trained and supported, this will lead to increased impact and scale as additional households will benefit from the replication of the models, even in other areas. The overall goal is to create a sustainable supply of affordable sanitation solutions through these businesses which will ultimately increase access to improved sanitation and health.
Impact: How does it Work

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

A huge challenge for urban slum households is that when their pit latrines fill up, they don't have appropriate solutions to empty them. The Gulper is a manual emptying technology that operates using a pump mechanism and is used to empty sludge from pits. It is suitable for congested urban slum areas that are often inaccessible by cesspool trucks and therefore provides an emptying solution for households when their pit latrines get full. Sanitation Solutions Group (SSG) trained and supported two entrepreneurs to use the Gulper and over the last year they have emptied over 200 household latrines. Part of the support SSG provides is marketing to increase public awareness about these services, which leads to more income for the businesses.

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

Since October 2014, SSG has trained over 50 sanitation entrepreneurs in three different business models - latrine construction, upgrading, latrine pan installation and emptying. These entrepreneurs have constructed and upgraded 130 latrine stances, sold over 3,000 latrine improvement pans and emptied 200 latrines. This has provided solutions for households, while at the same time generating income for businesses. Over the next five years, SSG hopes to train and support 200 additional entrepreneurs who will construct 3,500 latrines, sell 25,000 latrine improvement pans, and empty 25,000 latrines, reaching 370,000 direct beneficiaries and 740,000 indirect beneficiaries. SSG hopes to double these targets by 2025. This increase in uptake of sanitation products and services will improve sanitation and ultimately translate into improved health and economic productivity of customers.

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

SSG currently operates in Kampala area but some of the business models are applicable in other districts for instance the SaTo pan installation (which falls under latrine improvement). Since our approach is market-based, we strongly feel that training local private sector players in other districts is a sustainable way of replicating this model. SSG will facilitate replication of the same business models within other districts through various channels including identification of appropriate technical and business partners for supply and distribution and training them in order to achieve scale

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

Currently SSG is partly grant funded. It is possible to envisage that income will be earned from: • Consultancy, training and business development support fees from other sector actors wanting support in starting a market-based process • Franchising and leasing equipment • Being a wholesale importer and distributor of component for resale Experience has shown it is difficult to earn BDS fees from informal businesses especially sanitation.

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

The SSG model is the first of its kind in Uganda serving as both a facilitator and business incubator for the businesses. The market for the specific sanitation businesses is largely untapped owing to the nature of the business. The DuraSan pre-fabricated latrine model competes with mason-constructed brick pit latrines but the DuraSan is faster to assemble, higher quality, more durable as it is made from concrete. Competition for the latrine emptying model comes from cesspool vacuum truck operators but these cannot access the narrow slum areas and from manual emptiers who use unhygienic means.

Founding Story

Statistics indicate that there is significant sanitation market potential in Kampala. For example only 6% of Kampala’s population is connected to the main sewer line implying that the other 94% is in need of some kind of emptying service for their sanitation facilities. Although there is a high demand for improved high quality, affordable, desirable latrine services and products, the quality products and a supply chain to deliver them sustainably are lacking. It was upon this background that I formed Sanitation Solutions Group, a social enterprise that aims to build capacity of sanitation entrepreneurs in sanitation business models including latrine construction, upgrading and emptying.


The composition of the core team was as follows: 1. Sherina Munyana – CEO - Part of the core team that provided overall strategic direction for the development of the Bill and Melinda Gates – funded Sanitation as a Business (SaaB) program implemented by Water For People across nine countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She has a Masters in Development Management and experience working in both the profit and non-profit sectors. 2. Robert Makune - Commercial Manager - A marketing and business development support (BDS) professional with a Bachelor's Degree in Business who over the past two years has supported over ten sanitation emptying start-up businesses. 3. George Drummond - Innovation Engineer - An Engineers without Borders fellow with a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering who over the past two years developed sanitation technologies at different stages of the sanitation value chain and trained local fabricators in construction of the DuraSan modular latrine and use of the Gulper, a manual latrine emptying device. 4. Mikael Baker - Business Advisor - An MBA professional with experience developing SSG’s strategy, operations, and business models. SSG also has sanitation marketers paid on a commission basis whose role it is to find customers for the businesses. As additional businesses are trained, the composition of the team will evolve to include strategic local partners support replication of the models in other geographical locations to achieve scale.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:
Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder and CEO

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]

Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

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

I worked with Water For People’s market-based Sanitation as a Business program which gained substantial knowledge of the sanitation market in Uganda and highlighted the market potential for sanitation, something that could be leveraged on to increase access to improved sanitation even for low income households.

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

Strategic partners include micro financing partners supported by, other NGOs such as Water For People, SNV, Hope For Children, that believe in implementing a market-based approach as a sustainable approach to development, local district and city councils to support the entrepreneurs.

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