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Kenya-based company awarded Sh890,000 for user-friendly toilets

A Kenya-based social enterprise-Fresh Life- that works to make safely managed sanitation in low-income urban communities accessible and affordable, is this year’s winner of Grand Challenges Canada’s third annual Rotman Innovation of the Year Award, worth $10,000 Canadian dollars ( about Sh. 890,000).

The accolade is presented annually by Grand Challenges Canada, a Canadian not-for-profit organization that invests in local innovations that address critical global health, humanitarian and Indigenous community challenges in Canada and low-resource countries.

“Improving access to toilets that enable safe removal and treatment of waste is a critical means to improve health outcomes. According to UNICEF, better sanitation and hygiene could prevent the deaths of 297,000 children under the age of five each year globally,” said Grand Challenges Canada’s Co-CEO Jocelyn Mackie.

The CEO added, “We’re proud to have provided $1 million CAD in transition-to-scale financing to Fresh Life, made possible with funding from Global Affairs Canada, to expand their operations from a standalone enterprise to wider integration with government-led city sanitation plans. Supporting their scaling and sustainability will help amplify their health impact.”

The Rotman Innovation of the Year Award was created in honour of the late Joseph Rotman who was founding Chair of Grand Challenges Canada, and his family has generously supported this award in recognition of Mr. Rotman’s unfailing support for global health innovation. The Award honours an innovation that has had the largest sustainable increase in lives saved or lives improved over the past year.

Janis Rotman, President of The Rotman Family Foundation, explained: “My father’s firm belief was that business has a vital role to play in building a better society. Fresh Life’s model symbolizes Joseph Rotman’s vision for innovation for impact.

Using a unique market-based approach to stimulate demand for improved sanitation has contributed to a significant volume of waste being removed from communities that would otherwise have been dumped untreated into nearby rivers and waterways.

The Rotman Family warmly congratulates Fresh Life on being named the third annual winner of the Award.”

Lindsay Stradley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Life, added: “We are grateful to be recognized among many innovators all of whom have one goal: to tackle the most pressing health, economic and environmental challenges of our time. This win is a proud moment for our team and a game changer in catalyzing our growth and impact in fast growing cities. It inspires more action towards scaling sanitation solutions and sets the stage for other like-minded partners to join us in accelerating the Sustainable Development Goal on delivering safely managed sanitation for all.”

At the end of September 2022 Fresh Life’s network of container-based toilets stands at more than 4,800 across Nairobi and Kisumu. Fresh Life is also launching its services in a third city—Eldoret, in partnership with the municipality and the Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (ELDOWAS).

Fresh Life’s model is particularly unique within GCC’s sanitation portfolio, as it is the first to scale through a franchise model. Fresh Life provides access to safely managed sanitation services through a network of franchisees that operate Fresh Life’s container-based toilets: Fresh Life Toilets (FLTs) and Fresh Fit in-home Toilets (FFTs).

These toilets are manufactured locally and come with a handwashing station and a sanitary bin as part of the standard offering.

The FLT is a shared facility that is operated as a small business or as a value-add to customers such as in the case of a landlord for tenants or a school for students.

The FFT is a small facility designed to easily fit inside one room households for people living with disabilities, the elderly, or expectant mothers who face difficulty using and accessing shared toilets.

To maintain their status as a franchisee, Fresh Life Operators (FLOs) must adhere to hygiene and cleanliness standards set out in the agreement with Fresh Life and meet the monthly subsidized service fee payment of Sh.845 (approximately $9.50 CAD) for the FLT and Shs.250 (approximately $2.50 CAD) for the FFT. This monthly payment entitles the FLO to real-time customer support via a mobile application, toilet maintenance and regular waste collection services.

As of the end of September 2022, more than 150,000 lives have been improved and more than 15,000 metric tonnes/year of sanitation waste safely removed.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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