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The Sanergy Collaborative

Delivering clean sanitation solutions and converting waste to agricultural inputs

  • Company
  • Agriculture
  • East Africa
  • 2013
  • Active

The challenge

People living in Kenya’s low-income, informal housing settlements lack basic sanitation services, leading to open defecation and unhealthy living environments. At the same time, 80% of Kenyans rely on agriculture for their livelihood, but they are consistently challenged by an unsustainable supply of quality inputs and the existential threat of climate change.

The innovation

Sanergy tackles both of these problems through its nonprofit and for-profit services by collecting and converting human waste into organic fertilizer and insect-based animal protein feed. The circular model Sanergy has developed begins with providing toilets — through FreshLife, its nonprofit entity — in Nairobi’s low-income, informal housing settlements. The waste is then collected, transferred, and processed into valuable end products — fertilizer and animal feed — which are tested for compliance with international standards and sold to end users, smallholder farmers and animal feed companies. Taken together, Sanergy is increasing food supply, prioritizing the local agriculture value chain, strengthening resilience, and increasing incomes. 

The impact

Sanergy’s model ensures increased access to improved sanitation facilities in low-income, informal housing settlements while also providing a safe way to treat human waste and capitalize on its inherent value. The FreshLife toilets are used by 95,000 people a day, enabling Sanergy to process 70,000 tons of waste and produce 3,600 tons of insect-based animal feed, annually. These end products are used by more than 5,000 smallholder farmers, helping them increase their crop yield by 30%.

Acumen exited its equity stake in Sanergy in December 2020 following acquisition from AXA Investment Managers. With this exit, Acumen retains a debt investment in the company.