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AdvocacyWater & Sanitation

This Social Enterprise Is Using E-Commerce to Make Sanitation Accessible to All

Photo Courtesy: Svadha

India is the world’s second most populous country and home to the highest population without access to toilets in the world.

However, the number of households with toilets in India has doubled in the past three years.

As a part of India's sanitation revolution, governments, corporations, and civil society are playing a huge part in the implementation, construction, and behaviour change work on the ground.

But there's still a gap — a significant one.

Sanitation, especially bringing toilets to the “last mile,” is often seen just as charity, and not a profitable business venture.

Svadha is here to change this.

A social business, Svadha is generating demand and providing a supply of toilets in the most remote parts of the country.

In Odisha, Svadha is a one-stop shop for all things toilet-related — from hardware, to skilled labourers and financing opportunities. It brings together all sanitation solutions in one place, without having to provide the services itself.

Svadha is not only creating an e-commerce platform for sanitation products but also developing apps for people. It allows individuals to set up their own local businesses to sell toilets and other sanitation products at the community level.

It also creates markets at the community level, by encouraging micro-entrepreneurs to set up shop and play Svadha’s role on a smaller scale. Svadha has created a set of entrepreneurs who handle all local logistics, data management, and value chain services involved in this toilet-based market.

This social business is giving individuals and their families an access to choice in terms of the kind of toilet they want to buy, the type of investment they’re willing to make, and how much they wish to spend on it.

Svadha's model also doesn’t need the whole community to have access to a smartphone to ensure that it has access to this toilet market. The model makes a distinct economic agent out of every individual. 

The aim of Svadha is to empower "beneficiaries" to become “customers.”

From his experience in Odisha, Bihar, Nepal, Haiti, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, K.C. Mishra, founder of Svadha, has found that serving the “last mile” is a fundamental business opportunity as well as a social cause. This is the chance to bring livelihoods and wealth creation to the 78% of India’s poor, who are small, marginalised farmers.

Svadha is serious about creating business opportunities around toilets, much like the Toilet Board Coalition, which selected Svadha to join its Toilet Accelerator Programme in 2016.

A truly new-age business, Svadha is embracing technology by constantly building new apps to facilitate each step of the value chain, thus becoming a easily replicable business in different communities and ecosystems.

Svadha believes that if mobile connectivity could succeed in India, so can toilet accessibility. It’s just a question of giving the economic agency back to every individual.

Svadha is one of the participants of the Toilet Accelerator Programme, which was a commitment made on the Global Citizen Festival India 2016 stage. As part of our Accountability efforts, Global Citizen India is interacting with such beneficiaries of the commitments that were made publicly. Read more here.