Last month we celebrated World Toilet Day, so in this newsletter we're talking toilets and how our market-based approach is enabling remarkable improvements in rural sanitation in Cambodia.
According to the national government and the World Bank, nearly 50% of the population now has access to a toilet. Cambodia still lags far behind its neighbours but it's an extraordinary improvement since 2010 when more than 75% of the population was defecating outside.
What's speeding up the improvement? A growing supply chain, aspirational marketing, and a more engaged local government body. This combination has enabled the sale of more than 130,000 toilets in the last four years.
This month we want to show you how we got here, what we're up to and what still needs to be done.
A market needs people
Over the last five years we've been working hard to develop a market for toilets in Cambodia. But without dedicated government officials, ambitious suppliers, and resourceful customers, the effort would have failed. For World Toilet Day we wanted to highlight some of the incredible people around the country who have made sanitation marketing a success. Take a minute to watch their short stories, shot for us by filmmaker Jose B. Collazo and read their stories on our blog.
When we met local councillor, Sahun, he didn't own a toilet. But after joining our Civic Champions program he not only built a toilet for him self & his family, he increased the toilets in his community by 15% (!!!) in three months. Read more.
Sokheng went from garment worker to small business owner and has more than doubled her toilet business in the last few years. She says being a woman in Cambodia's construction business is easier than in factories.
Garment workers are the drivers of toilet adoption in many rural homes. But many didn't value sanitation until a life-changing moment. Vibol's family of garment workers pooled their money to get a toilet. See what changed his mind. Read more
Want to know about our business approach and how it's at the forefront of sanitation change? Check out Joanna Mayhew's articles in Deutsche Welle and AsiaLife.
Leadership training done differently
In 2013, we designed an approach that increased toilet sales by 400% by leveraging one of the most influential groups in rural Cambodia - local government. We called it, 'Civic Champions', and this year we've expanded it to nearly half the country.
We’re only a few months in to the scale-up, but the new cohort of councillors is already making huge gains. Sanitation in these target areas is on track to grow 7-10% in one year, greatly exceeding the national average of 1% per year. Here’s a breakdown of how this leadership program is integral to business success. This is different. Read more
One of the last barriers
One major reason people hold off buying a toilet is the lack of high-quality, affordable shelters in the market. Most customers want a labour-intensive brick shelter and wait months, even years before they can afford one. Over the last year, our design team has come up with something better - lighweight, sleek and quick to install. Now it's ready for market testing. Read more