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8 August 2014
By KC Koch
This is the story of a successful partnership between two organizations that share a passion for toilets: an NGO with 30+ years of making markets work for the poor and the largest toilet manufacturer in North America. Eventually, they made more impact together than either organization could make alone.
Combining diverse expertise
The idea of a partnership started back in 2011 at a water and sanitation conference in Delhi. Cordell Jacks, the co-director of iDE’s Global WASH Initiative, and Jim McHale, VP, Research, Development, & Engineering for American Standard, met for coffee. It didn’t take long before Cordell and Jim realized that they had the makings of a perfect partnership.
iDE would bring local expertise of rural supply chains and last-mile distribution in Bangladesh, as well as a host of sanitation market development experience gained from projects in other countries. American Standard would bring 140 years of state-of-the-art product design, computerized fluid dynamic engineering & modeling, as well as global sourcing, manufacturing and state-of-the-art product testing.
Together they had the right combination of skills and knowledge to make a difference for the 2.5 billion people who live without improved sanitation in developing countries.
Cordell remembers the potential of the partnership: “American Standard and iDE are two organizations with complimentary skill sets. Both are dedicated to increasing and improving sanitation globally. Together, we demonstrated that there is a sustainable and profitable business model in the heart of one of the most challenging market conditions in the world. It is an amazing example of impact that can be had with innovative public private partnerships.”
Accepting the challenge
American Standard saw a whole new market in the 2.5 billion people who are typically overlooked by big business. Too many corporations assume the poor have no purchasing power. But the most forward-thinking brands, like American Standard, are starting to take notice of the enormous potential in the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) customers. With a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, American Standard accepted the challenge to create a new latrine product for poor people in Bangladesh.
A local understanding from iDE
As far back as 1982, Paul Polak, iDE’s founder, walked and talked with small farmers in their one-acre fields. He spoke with them about their challenges and their dreams. iDE is still inspired by Paul’s approach of asking questions first. Today, iDE practices human-centered design (HCD), a methodology that identifies solutions to various challenges by placing users at the center of the design process.
In 2012, iDE led American Standard through the human-centered design process in Bangladesh. iDE was working under a grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank (WSP) to implement the “SanMark Pilot project in Bangladesh.”
Tamara Baker, co-director of iDE’s Global WASH Initiative, recalled, “We opened new doors and ways of thinking for each other.” Together they spoke with small producers, salespeople, customers, and merchants. They field-tested prototypes, gathered customer feedback and ideated on product design. They also understood the potential market dynamics that could be strengthened to form a sustainable business model.
Product expertise from American Standard
American Standard joined iDE in Bangladesh for a deep dive to ensure their solutions would be feasible, desirable and affordable. The designer from American Standard, Daigo Ishiyama, provided the big “a-ha.” He noticed something only a fluid-dynamic engineer would notice. Previous latrine products use too much water. Meanwhile, Bangladeshi are accustomed to carrying a very small amount of water into the latrine. When you have less water, you need a smaller trap. The confined space creates a whirlpool effect and provides the needed flush power.
Then, American Standard created an ingenious counterweight trapdoor solution that effectively sealed off the feces from the open air. And, of equal importance, the trap hid the feces from view of the user. Customer feedback revealed that people didn’t know it was possible to not have to see feces when inside a latrine. They were thrilled! The resulting product was named the SaTo pan (pronounced SAH-toh, derived from “Safe Toilet”).
The American Standard team also provided plastics knowledge, the ability to rapidly prototype in plastic, as well as the financial resources and influence to support iDE’s longer-term engagement with domestic plastics manufacturer RFL Plastics Ltd. “Thanks to our partnership, we suddenly saw plastic as a very interesting material for scalable, sustainable products for improved sanitation,” said Conor Riggs, Technical Director – Programs at iDE Bangladesh. “It was the spark that led to other innovations in our program, particularly the development of a fully upgradeable, mass-producible latrine system that includes the SaTo Pan that will go to market in the fall of 2014.”
The case for the BoP
BoP business models can and do work. iDE staff see it daily. iDE operates programs in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, and Central America, that are laying the groundwork for corporations to enter this new frontier. iDE asks private enterprises to think beyond charity. A sustainable business model benefits both the private corporation and the people they serve. Armed with the right insights, private corporations can make an impact and make a profit. These are some of the foundational principles of iDE, which emanate from its founder, Paul Polak.
Paul recently expressed his approval of the collaboration that led to the SaTo pan: “Since poor sanitation is a key source of illness in developing countries, I am delighted to hear that iDE has collaborated with American Standard, the biggest toilet manufacturer in North America, to produce and start to distribute a radically affordable product to prevent the spread of diarrheal disease. I am particularly impressed with the price of $1.50, which could make it accessible to millions of people. It is simple, affordable devices like this that make the biggest impact.”
There is still a lot of convincing to do out there. American Standard is a pioneer. Their next horizon? Zambia—where they know it’s not a question of “if” the markets will be profitable, it’s only a question of “who” and “when.”
23 June 2014
Sanitation Marketing pumps up the local economy and delivers health benefits.
DENVER— In rural Cambodia, 4 out of 5 people did not have access to hygienic sanitation as recently as 2010.1 Despite efforts to improve it, increase in sanitation coverage has lagged for decades—until now. iDE Cambodia is proud to announce the sale of 100,000 hygienic latrines in two years through stimulating local private enterprises to sell toilets to customers. This milestone will provide access to sanitation for an estimated 470,000 people.2 iDE has been at the forefront of the market-based approach for over 30 years.
“The huge achievement of 100,000 latrines sold in Cambodia’s rural areas is due to a tightly run staff who deeply understands the customer’s needs. Our team is dedicated to finding the right sales strategies, inspiring sales agents and working with local authorities.” —Ly Saroeun, Deputy Program Director, iDE Cambodia
This project, called Sanitation Marketing Scale Up (SMSU), takes place in seven Cambodian provinces. iDE launched a pilot project in 2009 to establish feasibility. The official scale up began in September of 2011. The 100,000 milestone was reached during the scale up period and does not include the latrines sold during the pilot phase. Total latrine sales including the pilot is 118,000, and counting.
The three-year Sanitation Marketing Scale-Up (SMSU) project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Stone Family Foundation, and technically supported by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank. The project is supported by the Ministry of Rural Development.
— PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS —
Creating Demand. The development of persuasive sales messages, such as “Easy to buy. Easy to build. Easy to use.” is an example of how iDE staff coaches members of the sales force to use the right selling strategy. Product design also plays a critical role in creating demand. During the pilot, iDE developed the award-winning Easy Latrine to be aspirational, accessible and affordable.
Ripple Effect. The project has benefited all sanitation businesses in the project area by increasing overall demand for latrines while demonstrating a business model to capture that demand. These new opportunities create a one to one ripple effect. For every latrine sold through a small business trained by iDE, another latrine is sold through a non-connected business that is inspired to join the newly invigorated latrine market.3
Economic Impact. The average latrine sells for 41.50 (US dollars). This price equates to $4,500,000 in revenue—a boon for the 199 small businesses that are engaged by the project, thereby feeding the local economy. On an individual level, a latrine saves each household $283 on average over a period of five years.4
Moving Toward 100% Coverage. In the seven Cambodian provinces where the project is taking place, there is currently an average of 40% coverage, an increase of 11% over the two years since scale up began.5
Reaching the Poor. Coverage for the poor increased 6% overall. In Kandal province alone, 18% of project-linked sales went to poor households, nearly doubling poor coverage in that province from 15% to 29%.6
iDE is an international non-profit organization dedicated to creating income and livelihood opportunities for the rural poor. For more than 31 years, iDE has created innovative solutions to development problems. iDE currently works in 6 countries in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector and focuses on creating markets around aspirational and effective WASH products and services that reduce diarrheal disease among poor households. iDE has impacted more than 20 million people globally to date through its agriculture and WASH interventions. www.ideorg.org
Infographic: “How do you sell 100,000 latrines in 2 years in rural Cambodia?”
Understanding Willingness to Pay for Sanitary Latrines in Rural Cambodia:
Findings from Four Field Experiments of iDE Cambodia’s Sanitation Marketing Program
IDinsight Policy Brief: Microfinance Loans to Increase Sanitary Latrine Sales. Evidence from a randomized trial in rural Cambodia
Water and Sanitation Program: Field Note. Sanitation Marketing Lessons from Cambodia: A Market-Based Approach to Delivering Sanitation
1 WHO/UNICEF, Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Estimates for the Use of Improved Sanitation Facilities, Cambodia, Updated March 2012.
2 According to the General Population Census of Cambodia the average family size is 4.7 people. http://www.stat.go.jp/english/info/meetings/cambodia/pdf/pre_rep1.pdf
3, 5, 6 As part of our regular M&E activities under SMSU, iDE has conducted annual latrine coverage censuses for all project connected provinces allowing us to estimate district-wide latrine coverage with a precision of ±10%, province-wide coverage ±5%, and program-wide coverage ±1%.
4 Christopher Root, Household Financial and Economic Impacts of Latrine Use in Cambodia, March 2010.
10 June 2014
iDE is excited to announce that we will be taking part in the world’s first online Design Expo – a one-week, online celebration of product, service and business model design that transforms the lives of the world’s poor. The Expo is being hosted by Business Fights Poverty, in partnership with International Development Enterprises from 9 to 13 June 2014.
The week will include a vibrant mix of Google Hangouts with topic pioneers, online discussions with subject experts, blogs on the latest design thinking, a Twitter Jam, and an online exhibition zone showcasing the best product and service designs.
Each day of the week will focus on one of 5 sectors: Energy (9 June), Health (10 June), Communications (11 June), Livelihoods (including enterprise, finance and agriculture) (12 June) and Water & Sanitation (13 June). The online exhibition will also be structured around these 5 sectors.
iDE will be presenting on Delivering Water and Sanitation on June 13 (Friday).
This is fantastic recognition of the social impact iDEis achieving on a massive scale.
We would love for you to join the Design Expo, spread the word and invite your friends!
30 May 2014
She slides down the muddy hill, constantly pointing things out and saying them in her native Paco language. At the bottom of the valley she hops the bamboo fence in her black silk skirt, turns, and smiles. This is her rice field and she is proud that she alone can feed her family.
La Lay Ha is a 34 year old widow with three children. They live near the Vietnam border in a hamlet called Ang Cong. Years ago, she was unable to grow enough rice to feed her family and would buy it to prevent a shortage. She says that rice is very important and it must be guaranteed for her family. She cannot focus on anything else until it is secured.
In 2010, she learned about a more effective strategy to fertilize her rice crop called fertilizer deep placement (FDP) and decided to try it because of the training accompanying the product provided by iDE. Nervous at first, she applied the product to a portion of her rice land. After the first crop was a success she applied FDP to all of her land and doubled her rice yield. Today, the same land produces enough rice to last an entire year for her family and the excess is given to neighbors. Since she no longer has to purchase rice, the money is spent on her children to supply them with clothes and books for school.
Ms. La encourages other families to follow her and use FDP. She says to buy a product you believe in, and this fertilizer is very easy. Her advice is “Transplant correctly, use FDP and wait until the end of the crop. Simple.” Her neighbor Mr. Ho laughed when he first saw her planting rows and fertilizing. Now he uses FDP through the iDE program and is also a success.
Spending less time worrying about rice gives Ms. La time for other things. She is head of the Women’s Union in the village, teaches family planning, and volunteers for another organization. “Now many people want to work with me,” she says, and her smile broadens.
27 June 2013
As Obama sets off to enjoy his Africa tour, let’s hope he enjoys locally grown food. There are some 500 million smallholder farms worldwide. More than 2 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods. These small farms produce about 80 per cent of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa.
These African farmers are essential to feed a growing continent.
When I think of African farmers, I think of those families we work with in Ghana, many gaining access to a water pump for the first time in their lives. I think of our farmers in Mozambique, growing hot peppers for international markets, and earning as much as $4,000, an amount they could only dream of previously. Or the farmers in Ethiopia, using one of our pumps and no longer walking a mile or more to collect water in buckets. As these hard working people invest in their farms, you can see the change. They grow more crops, and the grow a greater variety. It’s an investment. And with the right technology, they can grow their future.
In my many years of working in agriculture and rural development, two things have become increasingly evident. The first is that farming is a business – no matter how small the farm. Secondly, farmers need tools and incentives to expand their farms. They need access to water, seeds, and fertilizer. And they need access to markets. When we understand these farm families as businesses and not charity – as we at iDE have for millions of families – wonderful things start to happen. And more food is on the table.
6 December 2012
|iDE’s Second Annual Leaders in Their Fields Luncheon, held on December 4 in downtown Denver, was a great success. More than 700 attendees gathered to celebrate iDE’s 30 years of sustainable solutions to poverty, honor our customers, and launch a new initiative that will bring 26 organizations together in a unique collaborative center for international development.
The assembled guests got a big surprise when President Bill Clinton, who was in Denver for a speaking engagement, made a special appearance to express his support for iDE’s work. Clinton spoke about his own experiences working in Africa to improve agricultural practices, and emphasized that seemingly insurmountable global problems can be solved with the right efforts. “All of these things are before you. “This is stuff I’ve seen with my own eyes,” he said, “These are the kinds of things you can do, and that’s why I wanted to be here,” he said.
Clinton stressed that collaborative market-based approaches hold the key to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. “I think the idea that you should work together, pool your resources, reinforce each other and not fall all over each other is very important,” he said. He concluded his address by noting that the problems faced by the poor in developing countries ultimately affect the entire world. “I just want to encourage you. We are not going to like the world we live in if we continue to allow climate change, instability, and income inequality to dominate the 21st century.”iDE’s new CEO, Timothy Prewitt said, “President Clinton’s commitment to African agriculture is directly in line with iDE’s. His central message—that African nations can most effectively grow food themselves, lifting smallholders out of poverty and increasing production across the continent—gives iDE’s model a ringing endorsement, and inspires us to do even more.”
The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the Leaders in Their Fields Award to Doña Linda Manueles, a farmer and entrepreneur from Marcala, Honduras. On her farm, Manueles uses an iDE treadle pump and drip irrigation kit to grow 14 different types of vegetables, which she sells for a profit. She has invested her extra income in other micro enterprises including raising geese and rabbits, and starting her own seed bank from her home. After receiving the award, Manueles explained how iDE practices help local Honduran families invest in their own communities, and thanked the organization for its continued efforts in her area.
Other featured speakers included Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship, and Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, who welcomed iDE and its partners in the D90 Network to their future home in a restored 19th century horse barn in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Denver.
After the event, Prewitt noted, “Today was a terrific day for us, a chance for some of our supporters to learn more about our contribution to poverty. Denver is increasingly concerned with global poverty and the challenge of meeting food resource needs in the coming decades.”
Read about the event in the Denver Post here. Or, in The San Francisco Chronicle (AP) here.
Or watch a clip of the event on Denver’s CBS 4 News site here.
Photos by Galen Clarke
11 October 2012
We are pleased to invite you to join us for a very special experience. This year, we are offering our first official “Impact Tour” for donors and supporters. Each year, we’ll design a customized adventure in a different iDE country.
This year, join iDE and OneSeed Expeditions on a tour of iDE’s field operations in Nepal March 17-24, 2013. Here you will witness firsthand the transformational effects of iDE programs and technologies on rural villages among the foothills of the Annapurna Mountains.
While visiting iDE program sites, you will travel through some of the world’s most beautiful countryside, during a time of year that Lonely Planet calls “the absolute best time to visit.” Learn about organic farming practices promoted by iDE, visit a local women’s group, and participate in meaningful cultural exchange during a one-night homestay with a local family.
The connections you will make with the families who have partnered with iDE will be an inspiration for a lifetime. Personally, I have never felt so alive and fulfilled as I did when I first met an iDE customer. I was awed and inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit that had been unleashed in these families. I saw the pride and dignity in their eyes as they were sending their children to school and harvesting their crops. I saw laughter and connectedness, and most of all, I felt an incredible humility and learned to fully listen and be present in the moment like I never had before.
You can find more details on the 2012 Impact Tour here.
To register, please click here, or call Michaela Hennig at 720-235-3457.
We hope you can join us on this extraordinary journey.
22 March 2012
I’m sitting here at Green Spaces Denver, campaign headquarters for our Water4Food 2012 day of service in honor of United Nations World Water Day, which this year is focused on food security. As our readers know, that’s iDE’s main focus.
There’s a lot of excitement and momentum from volunteers showing up to help spread the word in our local community. We’re going out and hitting the streets with postcards, stickers, tee shirts to share facts like these:
Did you know that it takes 635 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? Or that 397 gallons of water are needed to produce 35 oz of cane sugar? The truth is, without water there is no food. Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. This year’s International World Water Day focuses on the critical relationship between water access and food security.
iDE, along with Card Gnome, Green Spaces, and our event sponsors, brings Water4Food 2012 to the Denver area to raise awareness for this issue and money to prevent famine for families in West Africa.
What can individuals do?
- follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
- consume less water-intensive products;
- reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
- produce more food, of better quality, with less water.
There’s still time to volunteer! If you can spend a couple of hours taking stickers and information sheets to Denver area businesses, sign up at volunteer.water4food.com. All volunteers are invited to join us at the Water4Food 2012 party tonight at 5:30pm at Green Spaces.
Purchase a Water4Food 2012 greeting card plan at Card Gnome, and 50% of the proceeds will provide families in the Sahel region of West Africa with the tools and knowledge needed to create and sustain a sustainable income from small plot farming, enabling them to increase food security and lift themselves out of poverty.
Your plan allows you to send 25 cards throughout one year. You choose the perfect card from Card Gnome’s selection of thousands of cards for all occasions; write your personal message and Card Gnome mails it for you. You can even schedule cards for delivery a year in advance.
With the purchase of a card plan, you gain a ticket with a guest to the party at Green Spaces tonight. Just show up and we’ll have your name on a list along with others.
If you would like to donate directly to iDE, please click here.
There are many ways to get involved in this issue, no matter where you are!
Visit the U.N.’s World Water Day site (www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/) to find World Water Day events all over the world, downloadable informational materials and more.
Twitter: Join the conversation using #Water4Food and #WorldWaterDay and give a shout to @CardGnome and @ideorg or any of the other great sponsors listed below.
Facebook: We love sharing water4food information and you can visit our pages to access videos, pictures, blog posts and other items we’ve been sharing recently:
Green Spaces greenspaceshome.com
Silver Bullet Water Treatment, LLC silverbulletcorp.com
Colorado Water 2012 water2012.org
Colorado Public Television 12 cpt12.org
Elephant Energy elephantenergy.org
Inspire Commerce inspirecommerce.com
Edge of Seven edgeofseven.org
Ellen Bruss Design ebd.com
Conscious Coffees consciouscoffees.com
Sticker Giant stickergiant.com
Rage Unlimited rageunlimited.com
Runa Tea Company runa.org
I’m incredibly inspired by all of these volunteers who are taking time out of their busy days to help us tackle this issue. Thank you to our sponsors, partners staff, volunteers, and news media who are working hard to spread the word on this very important day.
17 January 2012
So I’m travelling in India, and thinking that this would be a good time to buy a gold necklace. After all, there is probably no country in which there is as much investment in gold jewelry as in India. But then I remembered that the price of gold is rather high right now, so I decided not to invest.
I was not expecting, however, to encounter cows wearing necklaces (and blankets) in Bihar. Not just one or two, but rather a lot of cows with brightly colored strands of beads. Not gold but necklaces nevertheless!
The obvious hypothesis to this is that cows, being considered somewhat akin to holy, should thus be adorned as gestures of divine reverence. I don’t think that is the explanation, however.
The real answer begins in the field of the smallholder farmer and owner of this cow. My picture here shows a treadle pump in a field of vegetables being grown in the post-monsoon season. Cauliflower, carrots, beets, potatoes, etc., all fetch a good price in this season. The simple treadle pump combined with some sensible agronomic practice has resulted in a significant increase in productivity, that is, a lot more food grown and a lot more income produced. Not just one or two farmers. Lots.
These Bihari farmers often invest next in a cow or water buffalo. A bunch of reasons to do this: milk production, animal traction, farm saving and dung production. So the small plot farmer with his/her treadle pump can capitalize his/her farm operation through the investment in a cow. Adult cows in Bihar are worth as much as $400 or more if healthy.
It is winter in Bihar at present (January) and the nights get a bit chilly. I don’t know if this is truly necessary but I saw a lot of cows wearing “coats” for warmth, in addition to their necklaces. From the farmers’ perspectives, these animals are so important that one should make the effort in treating them with respect and consideration.
Now, I don’t actually own a cow, and if I did, I doubt that it would actually wear a necklace. Nevertheless, if I walk a little in the footsteps of the smallholder farmers using treadle pumps to increase their incomes and household asset base, I can begin to appreciate just how valuable the opportunity get ahead a little is. And if putting a necklace on a valuable farm animal which it was thus possible to acquire with the earnings, then I am fully on their side!
12 January 2012
iDE has just been named one of the top ten international organizations working in the field of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) based on a survey of experts in the field. The list was compiled by Philanthropedia/GuideStar, an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. non-profit companies.
Philanthropedia asked 116 WASH experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, consultants, and others) from 90 organizations to identify nonprofit orgs that were making the biggest positive impact in the field. A total of 106 organizations were reviewed.
In their anonymous reviews, the experts cited iDE’s focus on “systemic change through market development of pro-poor technology as foundational to its widespread impact”. One expert wrote that “iDE doesn’t want to be a long-term service provider. In its best work, it refines a pro-poor technology, develops a market for that technology, supports business development to provide the technology, and then backs out to let the market drive the availability of the technology.”
For more than 15 years, iDE has pioneered innovative, market-based approaches to safe water and sanitation access. These approaches exploit the comparative advantage of private-sector, NGO, and government stakeholders to reach large numbers of poor households cost effectively and in short timeframes. iDE has successfully applied these approaches in promoting water filters, latrines, hand pumps, and behavior change in rural Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. In Cambodia, for instance, iDE’s sanitation marketing program recently enabled local enterprises to sell 17,400 latrines without subsidy in a one-year period, won the International Design Excellence Award, and was inducted into the World Toilet Organization Hall of Fame.
To read more about what experts in the field have to say about us, click on the Expert Reviews section on our organization profile here.
Learn more about iDE Cambodia’s WaSH program here.
More here on the history of WaSH at iDE.