World Toilet Day 2016: Helping sanitation entrepreneurs thrive – a spotlight on Sanergy’s credit team
The theme of this year’s World Toilet Day is “Toilets and Jobs.” Here at Sanergy, we’re committed to ensuring our entrepreneurs can succeed and create further employment opportunities in their communities. Today, we spotlight one of the Sanergy teams working to make that happen.
For entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid, access to business financing and financial advice is often rare.
At Sanergy, however, financially empowering our Fresh Life Operators is at the core of our work! In partnership with Kiva, our credit team works with operators to ensure that they receive interest-free loans to help kick-start their business. In addition, they provide Fresh Life entrepreneurs with business insights that encourage effective financial planning to position them for success in their Fresh Life Toilet businesses.
Launched early last year, the credit team comprises of Haron Muciu, George Osir, and team lead Patrick Lang’at. Together, they represent a critical part of the customer onboarding process.
“Our work begins when a potential Fresh Life Operator expresses interest in joining the network but does not have the capital to acquire a Fresh Life Toilet,” says Patrick.
First, the team seeks to understand the financial feasibility of putting up a Fresh Life Toilet at the entrepreneur’s desired location. “At this stage, we look at potential customers the toilet will be serving and from there we can then develop strategies that will help the entrepreneur plan their loan repayment,” says George.
Once they have approved the area, they then take the client through the Kiva loan application process by developing their profiles uploaded onto Kiva website for fundraising.
In about three weeks to a month, the Fresh Life Operator launches their Fresh Life Toilet, and from this point, the team begins monitoring the business’s performance in anticipation of starting repayment.
“We always aim to build a relationship of trust with our clients from the outset, where they can comfortably relay their financial information as far as running their Fresh Life Toilet business is concerned,” says George.
This information then helps the team develop strategies that ensure that the operator breaks even in their business and repays their loan.
Loan repayment begins one month after the launch of the operator’s Fresh Life business, and during this time, credit officers follow up to ensure 100% adherence to the agreed-upon repayment schedule.
“This period is often characterized by lots of phone calls and field visits to the client ensuring that their businesses can generate enough income to keep the business going and to repay the loan,” George emphasizes.
In addition, the team conducts accurate record-keeping training for the operators and their assistants to ensure smooth accounting and tracking of the business’s performance.
So far, the team’s hard work has paid off well!
“As a result of this close relationship with our operators, we now have minimal loan repayment default rates! The majority of entrepreneurs have been able to repay their outstanding loans on time and even break even within a short time,” beams Patrick.
Access to financial training has also been key in helping Fresh Life Operators manage other businesses they run more effectively and even incentivizes them to invest in expanding their Fresh Life businesses.
“Our clients are often happy with our services! They receive invaluable financial planning advice from us that boosts their confidence in the possibility of a sustainable and thriving sanitation business model,” reiterates George.
Due to building a maintaining this great track record, our partner Kiva recently increased Sanergy’s credit line to 200,000 USD. This means many more entrepreneurs can access funding to invest in sanitation!
“This was a moment of pride and fulfillment for me and my team. Our work has truly proven that indeed market-based sanitation delivery is an excellent sustainable investment!” exclaims Patrick.
World Toilet Day is celebrated the world over on 19th November. It is a day to raise awareness about access to toilets and sanitation by all.