Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

  • nityajacob
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Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

We are pleased to announce we are starting the third topic of the thematic discussion on corporate engagement in sanitation. This is being hosted by Cheryl Hicks, the executive director of the Toilet Board Coalition , who will be posting her opening remarks.

Please login as before to post on this topic. You can also do so by email by mailing it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line above. I look forward to an interesting discussion.
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  • cherylh
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Big thanks to SUSANA for inviting us to host this session focused on what we at the Toilet Board believe to be the business opportunity of the decade - Toilet & Sanitation business models that deliver sanitation to all through the market.

We see a compelling business case for both large and small businesses to thrive and grow based on core business interests.

The businesses we work with see opportunities in future smart, sustainable sanitation that builds the market for low-income consumers of sanitation products & services, provides value added raw materials for supply chains (such bio energy and agricultural products) and is a future source of essential health information.

We have also seen that the marketplaces for buyers and sellers of toilets and toilet resources is already operational in some low-income communities. These pioneering businesses are now getting ready for scale.
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

In addition to Cheryl's comment, I would like to add we are seeking your comments on how companies can get engaged in sanitation apart from CSR. For example, can they mentor business models for those wanting to be sanitation entrepreneurs. Please note, this topic will be open for comments from 28 November to 4 December, 2016.
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  • UDAY
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Interesting!
Multiple ways that corporates can be engaged; investments on new business process by innovating toilet designs, developing market for new sanitation technologies, incubation for new products/ideas and so on.
CSR spending, still a small amount on sanitation, have specific segment of the market that can benefit from, leaving the larger question of re-inventing sanitation that remains unanswered.
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  • cherylh
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Absolutely agree Uday!
We also believe that sanitation systems can be reinvented to be smart, sustainable and aspirational for all.

For World Toilet Day just a week ago we launched 2 new thought pieces outlining exciting business opportunity in re-designing sanitation systems for the future that are value adding and self sustaining.

I've attached the files here:
1. Sanitation in the Circular Economy
2. The Digitisation of Sanitation for All

Kindly,
Cheryl
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Dear colleagues,

Cheryl has shared this very interesting study on Sanitation in the Circular Economy. I found it stimulating as it makes compelling business cases for both multinationals and small-medium enterprises to enter the field. The concept of the Circular Economy was new to me - where “waste” does not exist as a concept. This goes beyond reduced waste, or zero waste, to systems in which, as in nature, the whole notion of waste does not exist - everything is food for the next stage. Interesting, the term "human waste” has been replaced with “toilet resources”.

I think the publication offers several pointers on how companies can get involved in the sanitation sector, treating it as a business opportunity. For multinationals, it says the benefits are to go beyond the fence to advocate for improved sanitation for their employees along the value change, into the communities and homes. This can be a large and reliable source of toilet resources. Many corporations have made commitments to reduce food "waste", agricultural and farm "waste" — all of these "waste streams" are valuable inputs into the biological system. In addition, to meet national and global sustainable
development targets, multinationals have made public commitments to operate on sustainable and renewable resources and materials. This has squeezed and constrained many companies to find new materials and resources to supply their operations. That makes the biological, renewable and sustainable materials and products, coming from the toilet resources value chain, an increasingly attractive option.

Multinationals can also benefit from new commercial opportunities to sell a range of innovative products and services to entrepreneurs running the local sanitation systems. This includes cleaning products, odour prevention, collection and transport solutions and digital enablement.

SMEs have an advantage in low-income markets of responding to local market failures and
unmet needs in order to be customer centric in their offering to the market. Local cultural norms also provide key insights into user behaviour and aspiration. This leads to better-targeted products and services, with better customer acceptance and understanding.

Can you tell me what other ways come to mind of treating toilet waste as a business resource for developing countries. This would provide some pointers for companies getting into sanitation in addition to toilet construction and behaviour change.
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  • simon
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Great topic.

There are a range of corporate establishments and businesses that are not necessarily in sanitation sub-sector or the bigger WASH sector. However, these establishments have business aspirations and we have to ask ourselves the opportunities sanitation field can offer to the corporate world. I just have a few questions with regard to how the corporate entities can engage in the sanitation sector:

1. Can the telecommunication sector e.t.c. for example see an opportunity in engaging in sanitation activities as a way of projecting their image beyond what they are doing with CSR by allocating their promotional budgets towards supporting a sanitation activity that has a potential of winning them more customers? This looks a good prospect for engaging in the promotion of public sanitation facilities.

2. In addition, through lowered interest rates, can the banks target loans to small and medium size sanitation entrepreneurships and even communities thereby speeding up the realization of access to sanitation as they increase their market segment?

3. Lastly, can the corporate sector invest in promotion of innovations in the sanitation sector to draw interest from the innovators and the research world to create the win - win situation for the sector as well as the corporate entity?

These are views that we can think around as we strive to contribute to increased access to sanitation.

Thanks.

Simon Okoth
Senior Project Manager,
SuSanA Project Phase III, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
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Website: www.sei-international.org
Project link: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127
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  • magdalenabauer
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you for sharing these 2 documents. As Nitya already pointed out the circulated economy, I would like to draw attention to the study about digitalization in sanitation!

I personally think this is a great way to tackle the sanitation issue in India. Inclusive business, meaning integrating new “customers” like low-income segments of society feels like a prosperous idea. It may give the people more dignity and comes closer to their wants and needs. “People would like to have lifestyle rather than fulfillment of these goals as a pleasurable sanitation experience”. If a customer demand for smart sanitation can be created, maybe behavior change comes along with it easier.
TBC outlined very well how this idea of creating customer demand for low-income segments worked with solar home systems on demand and how mobile usage changed the way people adjusting their needs.

One of the examples that the TBC study gives is mobisol. “Mobisol combines solar energy with an affordable payment plan via mobile phone, comprehensive customer service and innovative remote monitoring technology. The Berlin-based company offers low-income customers in developing nations quality solar home systems that are a clean alternative to unhealthy, environmentally harmful, and expensive fossil fuels.” (from mobisol Website).
Mobisol shows very nicely how their inclusive business approach works.

First entrepreneurs in digitalized sanitations are Saraplast (“Mobi-Loo”), Garv (self-sustaining, portable toilets), Samagra (public toilet block model)

So the study conducted by TBC was made with 12 small and medium sized businesses which are already active in establishing a business model for digitalized sanitation.
They had very interesting 5 key findings:
1. Mobile & digital applications such as mobile money and the internet of things (IoT) are global development megatrends that are mostly unexploited in sanitation systems
2. Mobile & digital applications could transform the toilet from a
necessary “waste” or toilet resource capturing hardware into a centre of health and information
3. There are essential mobile & digital business efficiency tools
available for sanitation businesses today
4. There are innovative mobile & digital applications for industries beyond the sanitation sector in the future
5. Critical enablers to accelerate opportunities in low-income markets

Shortly said, technologies and even the first ideas of how to use mobile and internet of things are here, but it needs enablers (from global and local perspectives) and investors of projects for a smart sanitation.


@simon I think this document shows some ways of engagement from telecommunication companies and also small and medium sized enterprises where, yes, investement and loans from backs are crucial as an accelerator.

What are your thoughts on this? Should this be focused more from also public policy side? How to motivate these enablers?

Best,
Maggie

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  • cherylh
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Thank you for your insightful thoughts on the topic Simon.

At the Toilet Board Coalition we also believe that we can make a much stronger business case for a broader set of businesses outside of the sanitation sector - - as you say into value added benefits for their customers, employees and supply chain partners.

We have found 5 key business drivers for engagement in investment in sanitation beyond CSR:
1. Market building - accessing a 2.4 billion person low-income market - toilets and sanitation systems for current and future customers & employees!
2. Innovation - new product & service development opportunities that fit how future sanitation systems are evolving - for example, smart, sustainable, aspirational sanitation could mean water-less, chemical-less, and full waste or "toilet resources" recovery.
3. Supply chains - what we put in our toilets could produce valuable raw materials for industrial supply chains such as energy, agricultural products, protein-based materials, water, and health information
4. Sustainability targets - "toilet resources" (human waste) are part of the biocycle and up cycling these resources helps companies to meet sustainability targets to reduce waste and become carbon positive
5. Talent management - today's executives and employees want to work for companies whose businesses help societies to succeed.

More businesses are welcome to our platform supporting the business of sanitation for all - help us to spread the word! www.toiletboard.org - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kindly,
Cheryl
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  • Anjavonfalkenhausen
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Dear forum users,

I am Anja, environmental engineering student and currently interning for SuSanA (India Chapter) in Delhi, India.

Within the SuSanA library there are many publications available for download which focus on different ways of engagement within the sanitation sector. Especially the topic “Sanitation as a Business” along with many case studies is featured here. I prepared a short list of different papers which might be a good read to anyone exploring engagement in the sanitation sector:

Designing the Next Generation of Sanitation Business: A Report by Hystra for the Toilet Board Coalition:
www.susana.org/en/resources/case-studies/details/2099
Hystra , through this publication, aims to provide strategies and solutions that tie in with those of the Toilet Board Coalition, by providing insights and recommendations about promising initiatives and business models, and how to accelerate and replicate them.

Financing Sanitation Paper Series #2
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/2439
The Financing Sanitation Paper Series is a unique collection of six articles about different aspects of sustainable financing of sanitation (in emerging markets) - from financial inclusion to private funding and from micro insurance to climate financing. “The essence of public and private funding for sanitation” is the second in a series of six papers on sustainable financing of sanitation.

Creating alliances to accelerate commercially viable sanitation
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/2538
The past decades have seen a growing appreciation of the role of market-based approaches in driving global development. Many coalitions of public and private players have emerged to promote them. How best to trigger and support these market-based approaches? How to leverage the expertise and resources of diverse members in coalitions? This paper presents insights from the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC), a young alliance that catalyses and accelerates market-based sanitation initiatives.

Tapping the Market: Opportunities for Domestic Investments in Sanitation for the Poor
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/1859
This report examines private sector provision of on-site sanitation services in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Peru, and Tanzania, four countries where the local private sector already plays a major role in helping rural (and many urban) households construct and maintain sanitation.

Thematic Discussion: Private sector engagement in sanitation and hygiene: Exploring roles across the sanitation chain
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/2405
Split into three inter-linked and sequenced sub-themes that explore links between research and practice, the discussion focused on how and under what circumstances local private sector engagement can ensure sustained health and WASH outcomes.

Hybrid Management Models: Blending Community and Private Management
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/1876
In this Topic Brief, the approaches used by WSUP in Nairobi, Kumasi and Antananarivo are examined from the perspective of blending community and private management models. It concludes with practical guidance on this issue for programme managers.

Kind regards,

Anja
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Dear Cheryl,

Interesting to learn about the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC), it seems a good idea and I hope you will be successful in helping to bring sanitation to scale. After an admittedly quick read of the two documents you posted I do have some questions and remarks though.

1) The focus seems to be entirely on the private sector. What role does the TBC see for the public sector? One of the main reasons I ask is that I am slowly coming to the conclusion for myself that government actors on all levels are a crucial step in development, including improving sanitation.

2) I find the “circular economy” piece very interesting and inspiring, however, I think the claim that through up-cycling sanitation can become “self sustaining” is unfortunate. I am yet to see a system, either in solid waste management or in sanitation, which can fully recover cost. In my view, making promises that the system will even generate money is setting people up for disappointment. The TBC publication more or less acknowledges this towards the end when it says that externalities should be monetized. Which I interpret as economics short hand for a need for fees, tax money or some complicated “cross subsidizing” mechanism.

3) I have not fully read the “digital sanitation” publication, but what I read immediately raised enormous privacy concerns. For example:

At the same time, we have started to explore the realm of the internet of things (IoT) and its powerful data capture opportunities to understand the possibilities of mining key health data from the toilet. It is our vision that the opportunity to obtain health information from your toilet could drive demand for the toilet and its usage amongst the 2.4 billion people currently without.

For me, this concerns information that should be very private between doctors and patients. How should we trust private companies with such information?
Hope to get some of your views on this.

Regards

Marijn

Marijn Zandee

Kathmandu, Nepal

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  • RoelBlesgraaf
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Re: Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector

Dear all,

Interesting discussion. I'm Roel Blesgraaf, Public Affairs officer WASH with Simavi in the Netherlands.

To me the different uses of corporates, companies and private sector adds to the confusion. If we're really talking about big corporates, I think Unilever with their Lifebuoy programme is a good example of engagement in the sector apart from CSR.
Personally I like the study from the Overseas Development Institute on 'Private sector and water supply, sanitation and hygiene' which was made for the Sanitation and Water for All partnership last year. This study can be found here . In this study, different roles of the private sector in the WASH sector are presented, which helps to unlock the topic a bit more.

At Simavi, we work with the private sector roughly in two ways. The first way is by training local enterpreneurs who play a key role in providing sustainable sanitation services. Attached is a flyer about sanitation as a promising investment opportunity, with two examples from enterpreneurs in Bangladesh.
The second way is in partnerships with both Dutch and Bangladeshi companies in developing for example biodegradable sanitary napkins. In the RITU programme this is combined with empowerment and advocacy towards local government and other important stakeholders to improve both health and social/economic participation of women and girls.

In short, engagement of private sector in the sector is possible in many ways. From a development perspective however, I think it's best combined with actions targeted at government (agree with Marijn) and community level.

Kind regards,

Roel

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Roel Blesgraaf - Public Affairs Officer WASH
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