Changing the face of sanitation in Viwandani: Joseph’s Fresh Life business
Viwandani (which is the Swahili word meaning “industries”) is an area located in the informal settlement of Mukuru. It is in this area that Joseph Mbithi, who hails from Kenya’s Central Province, resides. Like most young people his age, Joseph came to Nairobi in search of better opportunities.
Looking for a viable business venture to fend for his young family, Joseph got to know about the Fresh Life business through a school meeting organized by the administration of Hope Gateway Educational Centre. His two young children aged 8 and 6 years attend the school. “I was impressed by the quality of the Fresh Life Toilets in the school and decided to inquire about them.” Joseph opened the doors to his Fresh Life Toilets in November 2013. The toilets, which are located in the heart of Sinai in the larger Viwandani area, serve more than 60 customers per day with hygienic sanitation. “I knew that I would get customers because there were no clean toilets to serve the residents of the neighborhood where I live,” he says.
To ensure that his toilets attract and retain customers, Joseph has employed Fresh Life attendant Rose to maintain his toilets. Popularly known as “Mama Rob,” she ensures that she cleans the toilet after every use and that there is water and soap for every customer. She also makes sure that she greets them with a smile and assists the young children to properly use the toilets. These are some of the tactics that Joseph passed on to his attendant after attending the Fresh Life business training.
To supplement his income, the savvy businessman also operates a small mobile money transfer shop that enables residents to withdraw and deposit money. This, combined with the Fresh Life business, affords him the chance to provide for his young family and send some money to his parents back home.
Joseph has seen a remarkable change since the Fresh Life Toilets came to the Viwandani area. “Customers demand better services and cleaner toilets than they did before. They prefer Fresh Life Toilets because they do not smell and are cleaned – they will not go to those toilets that do not observe hygiene standards.” He also recalls that the drainage system in the neighborhood was clogged because the residents would dispose of their flying toilets in the alleyways. Apart from the overwhelming stench, it made it impossible for the residents to get around when it rained. With the close proximity of the Fresh Life Toilets near their homes, residents no longer resort to flying toilets and the drainage has improved dramatically.
The success of Joseph’s two Fresh Life Toilets has him already scouting for land to add on more units in the area. “Not only will Viwandani area become cleaner, my investments will ensure that I give my family the very best,” he says with a smile.