“Cleanliness and hygiene are key to business success” – Landlady Josephine Kemunto shares her business experience

Josephine Kemunto and her husband Shem have lived in Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Reuben for eleven years. Here, they have raised their four children and established a salon from which they earn a living.

Josephine at her salon business
Josephine at her salon with a customer

In 2003, they bought a piece of land aiming to build a home for their family. However, with the population in Mukuru growing rapidly, the couple saw a good business opportunity and instead used the piece of land to establish thirteen rental units that would simultaneously provide a home for them and serve their community.

Even though it was common to build rental units without toilet facilities, Josephine’s plot had two pit latrines to make the plots more attractive to potential tenants. However, the pit latrines posed problems of their own. “Maintaining these toilets was a nightmare. We used to hire ‘frogmen’ to empty the toilets. The process was unsanitary, and the stench during emptying was unbearable,” Josephine recalls.

Tenants used to complain constantly about the flies in the toilets, and as such, the unit neighboring the facilities was hardly ever occupied. Josephine and her family had no choice but to occupy that house. “I would never invite guests to my house. It was embarrassing because flies were all over my compound,” she remembers.

When Fresh Life Toilets began operating in Mukuru, her friend and Fresh Life Operator Esther Munyiva introduced her to the network. This was an answered prayer for Josephine, especially when she learnt that, through an interest-free loan from Kiva, Fresh Life would assist her in the installation of the much-needed facilities. She resolved to purchase a Fresh Life Toilet for her family and tenants.

Josephine's family (Shem (husband) and sons Steven and Pivony
Josephine with husband Shem and sons Steven and Pivony

Josephine and her tenants could not have been happier with the transition from pit latrines to Fresh Life Toilets. Her family and tenants are guaranteed clean and odorless toilet facilities. During the recent cholera outbreak in Mukuru, Josephine is proud to report that none of her tenants contracted the disease; her tenants adhere to good hygiene practices, such as hand washing after using the toilet.

“I have lived in Josephine’s plot for three years. However, my wife and child used to live in the village for fear of getting sick because of poor sanitation in the city. Since the installation of the clean Fresh Life Toilet, my family has now moved back to living with me,” says Mutua, one of the tenants.

Josephine’s business is now doing better; the tenants’ turnover rate is much lower than it had been. She and her husband now have the means to make additional improvements to their rental units. “We are currently working on putting up a cement porch which will make it easier to clean our plot and improve drainage, so we can avoid clogged dirty water,” says Josephine.

In addition, Josephine has liaised with neighboring plot owners, and she will allow tenants of the neighboring plots to use the Fresh Life Toilets for a nominal fee. Her neighborhood applauds her efforts to champion sanitation in Mukuru Kwa Reuben.

Fresh Life Toilets have made a huge improvement in the well-being of Josephine’s tenants and her family members, and Josephine and Shem are committed to maintaining and improving the cleanliness of her plot. To them, cleanliness and hygiene are key to business success, and they are working to make those standards more easily achievable.

Way to go, Josephine! Sanergy is proud to have helped Josephine and her family promote sanitation in their plot.

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