Realising business opportunities in household sanitation


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Engaging the private sector to facilitate access to household sanitation facilities

In 2016, Emmanuel Tuyisenge, CEO Temaco builders Ltd and Vice Chairperson for the Rwanda Private Sector Federation Chamber of young entrepreneurs was in Gahaya, located on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda. He was supervising his employees at a construction site, and he noticed that “when nature called”, his employees were hesitant to ask nearby homes if they could use the toilet.

“Boss, it’s very inconvenient for us to relieve ourselves around here because there are no proper toilets and some houses do not even have toilets,” said one of his employees.

Emmanuel was puzzled. “It had never crossed my mind that there are homes without something as basic as a toilet. I took it for granted that all houses in this country have a toilet,” said Emmanuel. He decided to visit some more households in the area was discouraged by what he saw.

This inspired Emmanuel to look for solutions for households without latrines. In 2017, he discovered the Isuku Iwacu project and quickly made contact to know more about the project and how to be involved in it.  

Since then, Emmanuel has received trainings and workshops organised by the project which aims to facilitate the private sector to realise business opportunities in household sanitation.

“I am passionate about finding innovative solutions to solve problems in society, so I was excited to find out from the Isuku Iwacu project that my construction business could make a positive difference in the lives of people,” said Emmanuel.

Inauguration Rwamagana Sanitation Center: Emmanuel shows latrine products

Emmanuel working with other participants during SAFI workshop in Nyanza

The project has made Emmanuel realise that lack of proper household sanitation facilities is a daunting country-wide problem, which can create business opportunities. In February, he participated in a five-day workshop on new SAFI latrine [1] technology conducted by a local engineer and two engineers from Tanzania, who are also the inventors of the SAFI technology, at Nyanza Technical School. This technology is specifically used in areas with rocky soil structure that do not allow for latrine pits to be dug beyond 2 meters into the ground – which would be the case in Nyabihu and in some parts in Rwamagana and Nyanza districts.

At the inauguration of Rwamagana District Sanitation Centre, Emmanuel displayed various latrine options that he offers to customers. This includes the SAFI latrine which he has adapted to the Ecological Temaco toilet (Eco-teto), and toilets for people with disabilities and elderly.

“So far I have learned so much from the Isuku Iwacu project, from different latrine prototypes in the market to gain specific skills such as how to construct the SAFI latrine. In addition, I have made many professional contacts which has expanded my network and given me an opportunity to market my business. Participating in the inauguration of Rwamagana district sanitation center was key for me to meet other players in WASH as well as development partners and government officials,” said Emmanuel.

As a result of the mini-exhibition held at the inauguration of the Sanitation Centre, Emmanuel received ten extra orders from the public, specifically for the latrine for people with disabilities. This confirmed the urgent and apparent need for these tailor-made toilets.

Dry SAFI latrine prototype

Emmanuel intends to take toilet construction to another level and to expand his business. As a graduate of Environmental Chemistry, he is keen to find innovative and affordable toilets for everyone, including ones which can facilitate the recycling of excreta into manure.

In April, Emmanuel will begin the construction of six Eco-teto publically accessible toilets in Nyabihu and Nyanza districts.  

Although household sanitation is a relatively new area in Rwanda, there is serious demand from the public, as Emmanuel and other entrepreneurs are discovering. The Isuku Iwacu project has strategically positioned itself as a market facilitator to enhance public demand through behaviour change communication, and to ensure supply and accessibility of sanitation products and services through private sector engagement.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to construct SAFI latrine in Nyanza and Nyabihu districts because it is a chance for me to perfect my skill. I expect that at the end I will have the confidence to construct more," - Emmanuel, Vice Chairperson for the Rwanda Private Sector Federation Chamber of young entrepreneurs.

 

[1] A latrine which is not shared with other households, and where excreta is safely disposed in situ or is transported to a designated place.