Kenyan startup Sanivation, gets initial funding from Chivas


A Kenyan startup that converts human waste to cooking fuel has received Sh477,460 (USD4,635.54) initial funding from Chivas Regal’s USD1 million fund, following the public voting phase of a competition.

Although the amount up for grabs is about a million US Dollars, the local social enterprise startup, Sanivation, received the funding as part of a contest organized by Chivas Brothers Holdings, the Scottish producers of blended scotch whisky Chivas Regal.

The competition seeks top social startups from around the world that are transforming the society.

Sanivation installs free toilets in homes for a monthly subscription fee, after which they collect the waste, treat it and recycle it to charcoal briquettes that are then sold at an affordable price.

“We do this by treating waste as a resource. This starts by providing communities and refugee camps with modern toilets, helping them dispose of toxic waste, which we then transform into a clean burning alternative to charcoal,” the firm says.

“Our work allows families to live a modern, healthy and dignified life. By removing infectious waste from communities and preventing the contamination of local water sources, we are reducing the risk of diseases and child mortality. Secondly, by displacing charcoal, our briquettes combat deforestation and erosion, saving 88 trees for every ton sold,” it added.

The company had to battle it out with 30 other 30 startups across six continents over an intense five weeks of voting for a share of an initial $250,000 (Sh25.75 million) in funding.

It plans to channel the funding to establish a new site in Naivasha.

“The funding we have received from this voting period will enable us prepare to launch our new municipality site in Naivasha town. We look forward to the finals in Los Angeles (LA) to share our work with the rest of the world and claim a stake of the prize money!” Sanivation government relations manager Dickson Ochieng said.

The largest share of funding at the competition was received by Mexican start-up WeaRobot, which received USD53,824 (Sh5.5 million).

The start-up builds specialised robotic exoskeletons to support those suffering from muscle-restrictive diseases.

The remaining USD750,000 (Sh77.25 million) of Chivas’ USD1 million fund will be awarded at the anticipated competition finale to be held in Los Angeles on Thursday next week.

Since Chivas launched the contest in 2014, almost 6,000 social enterprises have applied for the chance to receive a share of the annual USD1 million fund.

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