Sanitation may not be the most glamorous part of the social benefit sector but it’s potentially big business: Current estimates value the market for products and services at $80 billion over ten years. With this incentive, businesses are starting to take up the sanitation challenge. Several of the most promising innovators are listed on Maximpact today.
Azadi manufactures biodegradable sanitary pads that are accessible and affordable to women in rural India. An estimated 300 million women in India are resorting to ineffective and unhygienic alternatives such as rags and newspaper to manage their menstruation. This poses health risks and constrains their access to work and education. Azadi’s pads are 100% biodegradable and 43% cheaper than the average retail price point in India. The company’s strategy has an enterprise element, too: They train local female entrepreneurs to sell the pads to consumers while educating them on the use and benefits.
WHO GIVES A CRAP
Who Gives a Crap is an environmentally friendly toilet paper company whose social business strategy works on two levels. First, they sell recycled toilet paper to customers in the USA and Australia, then they donate 50% of the profits to WaterAid to improve sanitation in the developing world. Their campaigns are humorous: One of their founders once sat on the “throne” until they’d reached a key sales target and their pun-filled communications include lines such as “Together we can save the world from the bottom up.” Yet their quirky approach has raised awareness of sanitation issues as well as money for sanitation development.
THE BIOENERGY CAPITAL PILOT FUND
A product of trend-setting Equilibrium Capital, this fund delivers project-level capital across a diversified portfolio of leading waste-to-energy biogas developers in promising and underserved markets. Proprietary projects include U.S. biogas developers in livestock and agriculture, food processing, municipal solid waste and wastewater. In other words, it’s a portfolio of companies that convert human, animal and vegetable waste into saleable energy. The Bioenergy Capital Pilot Fund offers insight into the changing face of waste and demonstrates a sophisticated approach to turning sanitation challenges into investment opportunities.
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