Ecotact: Making Public Restrooms in Kenya Sustainable and Attractive


In Kenya, only 50% of the population has access to clean and adequate sanitation. Approximately 30 million Kenyans are still using unsafe sanitation methods, such as rudimentary types of latrines, and almost six million are defecating in the open. The few existing public toilets are labeled as unhygienic and unappealing. In 2006 David Kuria founded Ecotact, which provides basic sanitation in Kenya through pay-per-use washrooms; since then the company has built 54 Ikotoilets through a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with the Kenyan government. How was David able to create economic value in a context of extreme poverty, and how did he convince people to pay for a service that is normally free? This case describes how a new social venture tries to address the issue of building a sustainable business model, and invites students to put themselves in the shoes of a young entrepreneur who was able to create a sustainable business where the state had failed to serve the community, showing how an entrepreneurial lens can even change the perception of public restrooms.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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