Governments on their own cannot solve the challenges around ensuring universal access to water and sanitation services for all.

The private sector also has a role to play: bringing innovation and developing services which are both financially viable and affordable for the poorest residents.

But, developing effective business models is not easy.

As well as building the capacity of the private sector, there is a need to improve the broader environment for businesses, through close collaboration with the public sector.

We have found that there are four steps to the business development process, some of which may occur in parallel, which need to followed to enable businesses to operate at scale:

  1. Blueprint: developing the blueprint for future business
  2. Validate: testing and refining the business model
  3. Prepare: creating the regulatory conditions for businesses to thrive
  4. Scale: rolling out the model to reach large numbers of customers and / or suppliers.

Supporting the private sector helps develop innovative, financially viable services in traditionally underserved areas.

It's unbelievable that faecal sludge collection can be a profitable business and is getting such a positive response. Now that WSUP has paved the way, CCC is committed to making more entrepreneurs in this business.

Shafuqul Mannan Siddique, Chief Conservancy OfficerChittagong City Corporation

Helping businesses improve marketing strategies

In an environment where many are unwilling to pay for sanitation, how can we promote safe services? In Bangladesh, WSUP is supporting businesses to better market and sell sanitation services to the poorest.

Video: July 2020 – Marketing the un-marketable? Selling sanitation in Bangladesh

Rangpur citywide inclusive sanitation photoshoot

Triggers for growing sanitation businesses

Learn about WSUP’s experience supporting sanitation businesses oriented towards low-income customers in five cities, and our findings that the success of sanitation businesses depends on factors internal to the business as well as those external, and out of the control of, the business.

Report: May 2019 – Triggers for growing a sanitation business aimed at low-income customers 

Blog: June 2019 – The Hard Reality of Sanitation: Why Public Sector Support is Key to Entrepreneurial Success in Emerging Markets (published on Next Billion)

Ghana Clean Team worker

Refining business models

In Lusaka, Zambia, WSUP has transformed pit-emptying businesses in the peri-urban areas of Kanyama and Chazanga. We supported the initial pilot of the pit-emptying service and have since worked with the businesses to improve their business model and become financially viable.

This work has formed a template that has influenced the design of faecal sludge management services for the Lusaka Sanitation Plan, financed by the World Bank and African Development Bank, that is currently being implemented.

Report: May 2019 – Strengthening the business model for FSM services in Lusaka: a tariff review process

Margaret Shawa, Kanyama

Testing business ideas

Enabling entrepreneurs to take the first step into water or sanitation is crucial. In countries such as Madagascar and Ghana, we have created economic opportunities for young men and women by helping them set up urban water and sanitation businesses. The goal is to help entrepreneurs to develop and market products or services, stimulating demand, improving health for customers and generating revenue.

In Ghana, we’ve set up a standalone social enterprise, Clean Team Ghana, which provides container-based toilets for a monthly fee covering toilet rental and the container replacement service.

Video: November 2018 – Learn how Moses Kotei became a sanitation entrepreneur in Ga West, Ghana

Driving national expansion of services

Scaling up successful private sector models is a vital step in achieving service provision at a citywide, or even national level.

In Bangladesh, WSUP is supporting the scale up of the SWEEP business model to reach hundreds of thousands of customers across four cities with safe, affordable sanitation waste emptying services.

Report: May 2018 – Incentivising the private sector to target low-income customers

SWEEP vacuum tanker in Dhaka, Bangladesh