Sanergy is dedicated to making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible in the slums of Kenya, where eight million people lack access to adequate sanitation. We are inspired by the idea that people living in slums have the strongest desire to build healthy, prosperous communities for themselves.
How did you get started, and how has your work evolved?
The idea to build a low-cost sanitation system began in Development Ventures, a seminar in D-Lab. Each of the founders brought different skills – engineering, design-thinking, and management – and different experiences – teaching in D-Lab, running start-ups in India, opening charter schools post-Katrina, and building public-private partnerships. We developed a prototype Fresh Life Toilet in the summer of 2010 and then launched Sanergy full time in June 2011 with a team of eight.
How did the PSC play a role in your work?
The Public Service Center generously funded our initial scoping trip to Nairobi, Kenya, and several follow-on trips as we built our prototype. We really could not have gotten this started without MIT and the Public Service Center. They have made dreams come true.
What impact have you achieved in Kenya?
As of February 2013, Sanergy is a full-fledged operation with 90 staff members, 85 percent of whom are Kenyan. We serve 8,000 people every day with hygienic sanitation through a network of 160 Fresh Life Toilets. We have created over 200 good jobs in the communities we serve. We realize that, while we are so proud of our achievements to date, we have many more mountains to climb before we have truly achieved our long-term objective of viable and scalable sanitization infrastructure.