GES2015: Global Entrepreneurship Summit provides Sanergy an Opportunity to Shine
“We have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek.” – Barack Obama, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009
This week is an exciting time to be in Nairobi. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is bringing together 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and government leaders to work toward a more enabling environment for start-ups around the world. In addition to attending this historic summit and events surrounding it, Sanergy and our Fresh Life Operators have had some wonderful opportunities this week to meet with our partners and share our work.
Julie Hanna, Executive Board Chair of Kiva and a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, came to visit our offices and meet with Fresh Life Operator and Kiva borrower Esther Munyiva. They discussed Esther’s experience earning an income while providing her neighbors with hygienic sanitation. “A challenge I face in this business is training customers — especially first-time users — on toilet usage,” said Esther. “Fresh Life however always trains on how best to train new customers and help ensure they return to use the toilet again.”
Credit Manager Patrick Lang’at was delighted that Julie, based in San Francisco, had the opportunity to visit while she was in Nairobi for GES. “There is no substitute for the opportunity to see Fresh Life in action in the community. Our partnership with Kiva has recently expanded, and it’s wonderful for Kiva’s leadership to be able to see the effects their loans have on recipients. Julie valued the opportunity to meet Esther and hear directly from her how Kiva has helped her support her family, while also improving her community.”
In addition, Sanergy Board Member Allyson Burns of the Case Foundation brought Steve and Jean Case to learn more about Sanergy’s operations. Steve is a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, and the Cases were in Nairobi as a part of their Unleashing Entrepreneurship campaign. They especially appreciated the chance to meet with Fresh Life Operator Hannah Muthoni and hear about her entrepreneurial journey: “In my neighborhood, there were a lot of flying toilets, and I wanted a cleaner environment. When I opened my first Fresh Life Toilet, it did so well, and I added another one within a month. Fresh Life has helped me take care of my grandson because I am able to stay with him instead of traveling to other parts of town as a trader, as I did before my Fresh Life Toilet. It has also given me extra income, and I opened a small shop with the profits I earned from the two Fresh Life Toilets. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to run a successful business.”
On the Cases’ visit, Sanergy co-founder Lindsay said, “Steve and Jean are longtime friends of Sanergy’s, and this is the first chance they’ve had to see our operations in person. We are delighted that the Case Foundation has made a commitment to entrepreneurship in Africa, and we look forward to working with them toward fostering new entrepreneurs with innovative solutions.”
On Friday, Lindsay was invited to participate on a panel at the GES Youth and Women Event. Speaking on the last panel of the day, Lindsay discussed how entrepreneurship can be leveraged to address social challenges. On the responsibility that entrepreneurs have to be change-makers in their community, “By defining business success in terms of impact in addition to profit, we work to ensure that decision-makers are cognizant of the role their companies play in their communities,” Lindsay told the audience. “At Sanergy, we don’t only provide sanitation solutions. We have also created a source of income for over 350 local entrepreneurs, and we have removed over 5,600 tons of waste from the community that otherwise would have polluted local waterways. At every step of our process, we create jobs and economic opportunity while providing a valuable service.”
The chance GES has provided this week to learn from our partners and teach others about the Sanergy model has been invaluable, and we look forward to more opportunities this weekend!
For more highlights from GES, please check out our Twitter account.