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

17.4k views

Page selection:
  • nityajacob
  • nityajacob's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator
  • Water Policy Analyst and Author; Moderator of the SuSanA India Chapter; WASH Lead at Swasti
  • Posts: 301
  • Karma: 6
  • Likes received: 134

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

Dear friends,

I am posting a summary to this topic. Thanks to all who have responded. We had an interesting discussion on how companies can engage with sanitation beyond CSR.

There are several ways a company can engage in sanitation. They can mentor local people to become sanitation entrepreneurs. By treating waste as raw material for other products, such as manure, people can think of a "circular economy" model for businesses. This can be an approach for companies to invest directly as well as mentoring. It can provide an impetus for companies to think out of the box and close the sanitation loop.

For the telecom and information technology industries, investing in sanitation can be a chance to project their image, it was said. However, this also applies to other companies. Unilever have already projected their commitment to sanitation through the Lifebouy soap.

Companies can bring in innovation. Technology for data collection, decision-making and planning is one big area where they can engage. Companies can help develop business models for local entrepreneurs and mentor them. They can also develop new financial products for micro-loans, user tariffs and innovations in service deliver. This can make financial markets or banking more inclusive in addition to promoting sanitation. Companies can also train local people to become entrepreneurs by helping with budgeting, technical aspects, marketing, staff management, etc.

Several examples were mentioned from Bangladesh, Peru, Tanzania and Indonesia where companies have engaged in sanitation. Companies have also co-invested, along with governments, in creating knowledge and research on sanitation. The government on its part can provide incentives to companies for investing in sanitation, beyond the mandated 2% CSR. The CSR aspect is unique to India, and the India Sanitation Coalition can help companies strategise better in this respect.

Drivers mentioned for companies to engage in sanitation include the potential size of the market, the opportunity to develop and market new products, treating waste as a resource with knock-on effects on improving environmental sanitation, being seen as a responsible corporate citizens that helps societies succeed, and investing staff time in a worthwhile cause.

The interesting concept to come out of this theme was that of the "circular economy" with its emphasis on up-cycling. Sanitation products - human excreta, garbage, waste water - are not something to be discarded. Rather, they are inputs for other products and companies can invest in their manufacture and marketing. Companies can set up their own units or support local entrepreneurs with skills and finance to do so.

Hope you all enjoyed this discussion. If you would like to add to it, please continue to do so.

Regards
Nitya Jacob

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • rashidkidwai
  • Posts: 3
  • Likes received: 2

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

Dear Members,

Why & how would most companies not in the sanitation business engage with sanitation? It is not their main line of business. Is it because of the Swacch Bharat Mission and the PM’s call for make the country ODF by 2019. Or do they have a genuine interest in promoting community well-bring. It could be a bit of both, more I believe the latter. I base this on a number of conversations where the fact that a lot of our girls do not go to school is because of the lack of toilets, and so most feel that something needs to be done.

Given that companies now need to spend 2% of their profits on social programmes, I believe is a large driver for them to help the sanitation effort. As sanitation is not their core competence, a number of them are approaching sanitation in much the same way that they would a new business they were engaged with. For this they have strengthened their CSR and HR departments where the needs are/have been identified and then they set about addressing those needs e.g. the greatest need in sanitation is to bring about behavioural change. Companies with their expertise in marketing/communication, can play a large role here. Given their lack of domain knowledge, they work with organisations who can help them overcome this weakness. The India Sanitation Coalition (ISC) and other such bodies offer such opportunities, as the coalition has over 140 organisations on board which can help with different solutions.

We have found that helping a large organisation achieve its sanitation objectives through support from different partners helps ISC in achieving its own sanitation goals, as if the large organisation can achieve its goals, so does ISC.

In addition, companies with their expertise can help train people, organize supply chains and develop business models.

Those that have products related to sanitation have increased their activity/visibility in the market at times with media collaboration e.g. HUL, RB etc

There is a crying need is to establish entrepreneurs who would make money by working in sanitation. Companies may be able to provide models for such solutions. Apart from just construction of toilets there is a need to establish models for building quality toilets, maintenance & treatment. They is also a need to provide technology solutions to address various requirements including saving/locating water for the toilets.

Regards
Rashid Kidwai
India Sanitation Coalition

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • simon
  • simon's Avatar
  • Posts: 18
  • Karma: 2
  • Likes received: 14

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

I wish to throw a few more dimensions to this interesting debate. The thoughts below take the “necessity” angle rather than the business/entrepreneurial angle of how policy and government regulations can contribute to enhancing access to sanitation:

1. World over, governments, in the interest of development and growth, play a critical role in the innovation process because scientific knowledge and technical know-how are actually public goods. While these fields can be purely left for the governments including knowledge and technical know-how in the sanitation sector, it would be more advantageous for governments to create environment for co-financing for research, development, demonstration and diffusion of new technologies alongside business. The private entities can therefore be engaged in financing of RDD&D which can then be channeled towards areas of acute needs like sanitation. It is possible to have a policy that direct resources contributed by the private and corporate entities towards addressing challenges in sanitation.

2. The above is with regard to research and development, the next opportunity for government to realize the impact of the above is to create environment for differential pricing by business in the sanitation sector by allowing businesses to provide discounts on supplies for sanitation products and services to low-income settings with the commitment from governments to maintain enhanced pricing in all other markets areas.

3. The government can impose a small levy to address the most pressing development issues like sanitation especially in the developing countries. The levy can then be ring-fenced for the specific needs of sanitation with the money being used to subsidise the construction of sanitation infrastructure. The design of the levy should involve all the stakeholders for purposes of buy in as well as the understanding that in deed sanitation is a priority development agenda for the country.

An objectively detailed guideline on how the above issues are to be implemented based on public accountability plan have the potential of drawing support from across the different corporate agencies.
Simon Okoth
Senior Project Manager,
SuSanA Project Phase III, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.sei-international.org
Project link: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • sujoy
  • Posts: 8
  • Likes received: 4

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

Hi everybody- a very interesting discussion, with evidences of how there is money in the sanitation sector and how corporate can get involved.The evidences presented for establishing that there is money are indeed laudable and wish that all these projects / interventions reach scale. Improvements in sanitation is essential for health outcomes and corporate should get engaged with the sector to demonstrate their good health commitments to their customers.

I agree with Simon that corporate should invest in incubating and mentoring sufficiently scaled interventions that actually demonstrate successful business models, which can then be replicated.

Regards
Sujoy
The following user(s) like this post: simon

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • RoelBlesgraaf
  • RoelBlesgraaf's Avatar
  • Humanitarian WASH advisor
  • Posts: 3
  • Likes received: 1

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

This attachment is hidden for guests.
Please log in or register to see it.
Roel Blesgraaf - WASH advisor
Netherlands Red Cross

This message has an attachment file.
Please log in or register to see it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • Marijn Zandee
  • Marijn Zandee's Avatar
  • Moderator
  • No longer working in WASH, but still following the forum.
  • Posts: 261
  • Karma: 22
  • Likes received: 134

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

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • Anjavonfalkenhausen
  • Anjavonfalkenhausen's Avatar
  • Posts: 3
  • Likes received: 0

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

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • cherylh
  • cherylh's Avatar
  • Executive Director, Toilet Board Coalition
  • Posts: 3
  • Likes received: 2

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

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • magdalenabauer
  • magdalenabauer's Avatar
  • Former Intern SuSanA India Chaper
  • Posts: 22
  • Likes received: 3

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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • simon
  • simon's Avatar
  • Posts: 18
  • Karma: 2
  • Likes received: 14

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)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.sei-international.org
Project link: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127
The following user(s) like this post: nityajacob

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • nityajacob
  • nityajacob's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator
  • Water Policy Analyst and Author; Moderator of the SuSanA India Chapter; WASH Lead at Swasti
  • Posts: 301
  • Karma: 6
  • Likes received: 134

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.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • cherylh
  • cherylh's Avatar
  • Executive Director, Toilet Board Coalition
  • Posts: 3
  • Likes received: 2

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
This attachment is hidden for guests.
Please log in or register to see it.


This attachment is hidden for guests.
Please log in or register to see it.

This message has attachments files.
Please log in or register to see it.

The following user(s) like this post: nityajacob, tiwaripayal

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
Page selection:
Share this thread:
Recently active users. Who else has been active?
Time to create page: 0.124 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum