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Question: What do mobile, circular economy and affordable housing have in common? Answer: New business opportunities for inclusive business in the sanitation sector.

“A critical feature of the Toilet Board Coalition is its ability to be entrepreneurial, both in identifying bold challenges and in bringing top minds to the table to help solve them. The true power of the TBC is its ability to leverage the knowledge and experience of its members to tackle grand challenges in sanitation. For this, a high level of rigour is required.” Andrew Taylor, Grand Challenges Canada

The Toilet Board Coalition (TBC) was created by leading businesses, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, Firmenich and Lixil to bring a business view, approach and new solutions to the global sanitation crisis and aims to bring speed and scale to promising business models that will help us to achieve universal access to sanitation before 2030. Our goal is to catalyse a robust business sector delivering sanitation to low-income markets, profitably and at scale, changing lives. At the TBC we also work at the systems level to co-create the necessary ecosystem to support sanitation businesses to scale – this is where our Feasibility Cohort Program comes in.

"In the beginning there is often ambiguity around the criteria to measure success - - The TBC’s Feasibility Cohort Program allows us to avoid ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ and missing interesting opportunities by strictly limiting ourselves from the outset." Vikki Bolam, LIXIL Corporation

What’s new? In 2016 we are focusing on new and exciting themes for the sector as part of 3 'Feasibility cohorts' to explore how the TBC might support and grow businesses in the sanitation value chain where we see profound potential for transformative growth.

In reviewing our current pipeline, we found that innovative sanitation business models seem to be particularly rich and promising in 3 key areas: circular economy (waste treatment & waste to resources), mobile & consumer technologies and affordable housing.

Leapfrogging a Nascent Sector Direct to Digital Business Models 4 Development & Scale

“Digitizing” Sanitation for the Poor: Who has been successful in providing access to basic services to low-income consumers at speed and scale? Answer: Pay-as-you-Go low cost solutions Solar powered by Mobile Payments & Digital CRM system. New research outlines the opportunity space: The GSMA has published a study in August 2015 outlining the opportunity spaces for Mobile 4 Sanitation as part of their Mobile 4 Development Program. They have identified 5 key areas: Connectivity in the value chain; Customer relationship management/insights data; Mobile payments; Logistics; and Bundling. In Q1 2016 the TBC & GSMA held a workshop which brought together sanitation, solar, mobile, and finance businesses which identified several promising areas for further exploration. With this Feasibility Cohort we will seek to make a business case for digital/mobile solutions across current sanitation business models – eliminating current barriers to scale.

Monetising Human Waste as a Valuable Resource for improved health and environment - Changing Lives.

To achieve universal access to sanitation we need to create demand - what if human waste had a value, that companies are willing to pay for? In December 2015 world governments and business leaders agreed to reduce the emissions of harmful green-house gasses that are causing climate change - what if adequate waste treatment implemented at scale could be a source of essential green energy supply? Inadequate waste treatment systems are resulting in the leakage of harmful pathogens into drinking water and agriculture leading to disease and overall poor health lowering productivity – what if human waste could be purified to provide clean water AND treated to become higher performing bio fertiliser at scale? With this Feasibility Cohort we will seek to make a business case for human waste to energy / fertiliser business solutions as commercially viable and scalable.

Why Affordable Housing & The Toilet Board Coalition?

To achieve universal access to sanitation we need change to happen at scale. The TBC is accelerating sanitation (toilet) business solutions for low-income markets that need large scale distribution channels. Affordable housing projects have struggled to find toilet solutions that work with their affordable price point - and that address difficult issues such as lack of access to sanitation infrastructure. With TBC Toilet Business Solutions & Affordable Housing Projects - we can link Supply and Demand. With this Feasibility Cohort we have the potential to develop a holistic solution that enables speed and scale – incorporating improved sanitation solutions for low-income to affordable housing projects.

We are hoping to attract and empower more Toilet Innovators and SaniPreneurs to this vast business opportunity with our commitment to support, mentor and invest through our Feasiblity Cohort Programs and our Toilet Accelerator Programs.

Please join us @TheToiletBoard

This post is a part of the April 2016 series on Inclusive Businesses and Sanitation. View the whole series for more business examples, research and insights on sustainable sanitation solutions.