Monday, May 09, 2011

An Eco-toilet provides an entrepreneurial opportunity for one Kenyan

For those making only a couple of dollars a day, any little opportunity to make a earn a few pennies here and there can make a big difference. Often the work can be something that others don't want to do, a task that many feel is beneath them.

From the Next Billion blog, Jonathan Kalan writes about one women in the Kiberia slum of Kenya that does one task that others don't want to do.

Despite raising five children, four grandchildren, and now accommodating up to six people in one small bedroom, Angela fills as many hats as her head can hold to make ends meet and improve her community. Among her several positions in community committees and local NGO projects, she actively serves as a Community Health Promoter, is a member of the Riverside Silanga Garbage Collection group, tends to a small garden on the fringe of the village, sells bags of charcoal on the street to make a small income. And, since the end of last year, she earns 50-60 Kenyans shillings per day performing a task few would care to discuss let alone do: collecting poo.

That's right. Feces. Little, specially treated, white and green bags of human excreta, to be exact. Angelina is one of a few locals empowered by Peepoople AB, a Swedish social enterprise that launched a pilot project in Silanga in October. She's marketing and selling The Peepoo, a personal, single use toilet which sanitizes human excreta shortly after defecation, preventing the feces from contaminating the surrounding environment. After just a few weeks, the bags turn the waste into a nutrient rich fertilizer.

The Peepoo bags, which sell at a subsidized (by Peepoople) cost of 3 Kenyan Shillings each, are used at home, then returned to one of two "drop off" points where customers get a 1 Ksh refund for returning the bags.

It's in this simple, 1 Ksh refund, that Angelina saw an opportunity to develop a little venture for herself. Some residents either feel uncomfortable, or don't have the time, to drop off the bags, which are designed to both eliminate odors and ensure the safety of the handler. Angelina collects bags from her neighbors, and returns them in bulk, pocketing the 1 Ksh refund.

On a good day, Angelina told me, she'll collect and return 60-70 bags during her morning rounds (people leave them outside their houses for collection), making close to $0.85 for an hour's work.

1 comment:

Suseonjae said...

this article is very touching, thank you. It is stories like this that make realise how un humble i am. i would like to recomend why does she not make her own eco toilet and sell it, it is not hard here is the link, (short link) also if i can help via email please let me know, thanks again.