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. Providing high quality services at a price point which is affordable for low-income residents, and which generates a profit, requires perseverance. This is particularly true in the sanitation sector, where there is often a significant gap between willingness to pay and the true cost of the service.

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. WSUP has found that the support of the public sector can often be the critical factor in determining whether a WASH business can succeed or not.

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.

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Shafuqul Mannan Siddique, Chief Conservancy OfficerChittagong City Corporation

Clean Team: high quality sanitation services in Kumasi, Ghana

In Ghana, we’ve set up a standalone social enterprise, Clean Team, which provides container-based toilets for a monthly fee which covers the rental of a toilet as well as the container replacement service. The service operates in the city of Kumasi.

Visit the Clean Team website

November 2021: Valuing toilets: how customers rate the container based sanitation experience


Helping businesses improve marketing strategies

In an environment where many are unwilling to pay for sanitation, how can we promote safe services? WSUP’s work is helping build a stronger customer base for the private sector.

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

August 2020: What can the water sector learn about customer service from UK energy providers

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.

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

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

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.

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

SWEEP: private sector-led sanitation waste collection in Bangladesh

SWEEP is WSUP’s ground-breaking sanitation enterprise development model in Bangladesh.

Addressing the urgent need for safe sanitation services in Bangladesh’s crowded cities, the SWEEP model creates an opportunity for private enterprise to enter the sanitation market.

Having been trialled in Dhaka from 2015, the model is now spreading across Bangladesh’s cities and municipalities.

July 2019: A vision of a green city: can improved sanitation help?