Jane Wangari – pioneering safe sanitation in Shauri Moyo
In our Fresh Life network, female operators make up for more than half of all the entrepreneurs. One of these women is Jane Wangari who hails from Nairobi’s Shauri moyo area. The last of three children in her family, Jane is a cheerful, outgoing mother of two. She joined the Fresh Life network in 2012 and her Fresh Life Toilets were the first in her neighborhood. She shares how her work as a Fresh Life Operator has impacted her life and her community.
Tell us about your life growing up
I was born and raised here in Shauri Moyo. Growing up, we had a scarcity of toilets, we used the municipal facilities located about one and half kilometers from our home. As the population in this area grew, these toilets were not sufficient for all of us. Most people resorted to open defecation and the use of flying toilets. We were living in our waste.
How did you join the Fresh Life family?
My mother and I had been in search of a good sanitation solution for a long time. Just as we were about to put up a pit latrine, my mother discovered Fresh Life Toilets – she saw a facility at Gikomba market, a popular market in Nairobi’s South-East area. We reached out to the Fresh Life team and set up two Fresh Life Toilets. A few months later, we had resolved the problem of open defecation within our residential plot, but our neighborhood was still full of human waste. Therefore, we extended our services to neighbors in the area and put up two extra facilities.
Our customers were very excited, and we had long queues of people lining up to use the Fresh Life Toilets. This made me happy because we were slowly getting rid of open defecation. I was motivated to give the best service in order to ensure that they kept coming back.
Today, Fresh Life Operators like myself have transformed Shauri Moyo; our pathways are clean and the air is fresh! You can hardly find any flying toilets or open defecation.
What business lessons have you learnt over the last 6 years you have been in the Fresh Life network?
You have to listen to your customers, it helps to retain them. Secondly, innovation is an important ingredient of business growth. Adjacent to my Fresh Life Toilet, there is a lobby area for customers as they wait their turn, this keeps them coming back to my Fresh Life Toilet.
Who inspires you?
My mother is my biggest inspiration! She is always on the lookout for business opportunities and is very diligent in everything she does. Every day, she equips me with skills that help me become a better entrepreneur and mother to my two children.
I also look up to Tabitha Karanja, one of Kenya’s top women entrepreneurs. I admire her leadership, skills and tenacity in a male dominated business industry.
Currently, Fresh Life has over 1,055 entrepreneurs, who are serving over 55,000 people every day with safe sanitation.