Every family deserves a toilet
You use one every day, and likely never realize just what a difference a toilet can have in people’s lives.
For the 40 percent of the people on the planet who do not have a toilet, acquiring one would mean keeping your one-year-old child from developing diarrhea and possibly dying from it. For your fourteen-year-old daughter, it would mean being able to defecate close to home rather than going out alone to the woods or a field, where she could be attacked. For you and your family, it would provide basic human dignity and reduce the number of days you are sick, so that you can continue to work and your children can be successful in school.
- 46% of the world does not have a safely working toilet in their home.
- Poor sanitation is linked to diarrheal diseases such as cholera and dysentery, which causes stunting and malnutrition in children.
- Diarrhea kills 2,195 children every day—more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.
- Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 525,000 children every year globally.
- Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are infected by parasitic worms found in contaminated soil due to inadequate or nonexistent sanitation facilities.
- In Cambodia, stunting rates for children under the age of five – low height for age – are at 32 percent. Approximately 50 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation.
- With 70,000 under-five deaths per year due to diarrhoea, it is the leading cause of under-5 mortality in Ethiopia.
- It is estimated that over 45% of people in rural Bangladesh still lack access to quality toilets, a country with 164 million people.
iDE is founded on the philosophy that when people invest their own money, they’re more likely to embrace the change necessary to improve their lives. We advise and train local entrepreneurs to deliver solutions that people need and are able to afford. Since we began building supply and demand for sanitation products, more than six million individuals in six countries have gained access to improved sanitation, and learned how to protect their health and their families.
A strategy for selling toilets
At iDE, we use a human-centered sales approach that teaches sales agents to focus on selling to a customer’s problem, rather than selling on product features or price. Through a personalized conversation with the customer, the sales agent helps the customer identify all the issues he or she is encountering as a result of not having a toilet. Raising self-awareness about these problems intensifies the urgency and importance of resolving the problem(s) and helps the customer recognize the toilet as a viable solution to their problems.
Making it affordable with microfinance
Of course, part of the customer’s problem is poverty. For example, nearly 20 percent of the population in Cambodia is below the national poverty line, and this number is even higher in some countries in Africa. Under certain conditions, enabling households to finance the purchase of a toilet has the potential to increase sales fourfold at a market price of $50, decreasing per-toilet operating costs (e.g., marketing, transportation) by 70 percent at the same time. However, setting up partnerships with microfinance institutions is a long, iterative process that requires a lot of hands-on management. Sanitation financing is still a nascent field, and microfinance institutions may be waiting for more proof of positive business impact. iDE is exploring alternative methods of finance that overcome these operational and financial challenges.
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