India accounts for 60% of the world’s population of open defecators. Approximately 67% of rural India does not have access to toilets and even in urban areas, the 2011 Census data showed that only 32.7% had access to a piped sewerage connection1 . With the current rate of progress the nation will miss the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation – reducing the number of people without access to water and sanitation by half by an astounding 39 years2 . Given this dismal scenario, it’s ironical that the states have been unable to utilize even the available funds. Consequently, the nation is paying the cost for not spending on drinking water and sanitation in the form of loss of working days, increased expenditure on healthcare, school drop outs, malnutrition, anaemia and infant and child mortality.
Banka BioLoo and its objective
Banka BioLoo is a social enterprise engaged in developing and promoting innovative environment friendly products and services for human waste management with the primary focus of dealing with the scourge of open defecation. They manufacture, promote and supply ELoo – the environmentally friendly bio-digester toilets. This sanitation system is commonly installed at places where conventional toilet facility can’t be made available and has proven to become a sustainable and cost effective sanitation solution. It lessens environmental degeneration and creates better health conditions.
The bio-digester technology, developed in collaboration with the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), decomposes 99% of the human waste very effectively in a short period of time and inactivates the pathogens responsible for water-borne diseases.
Banka BioLoo also offers other services such as rentals and annual maintenance contracts (AMC), mobile bio-toilets, consultancy for development of large bio-tanks, waste water treatment and recycling solutions and supporting low cost housing projects for better sanitation requirement in rural and urban areas.
The market for their bio-digester technology solutions is schools, villages, small communities, resorts, construction sites, inlands, public sector units (PSU), private sector enterprises, industrial factories and places where there are no sewage lines or direct connection to the municipal sewerage systems.
Banka BioLoo has had several successful corporate partnerships. They often receive enquiries for bio-toilets from different corporate entities. Once the enquiry comes in they send a rate quotation and if selected, they partner to manufacture and provide bio-toilets to these companies, and to beneficiaries as a part of their CSR activities. They first engaged in a pilot for Larsen & Toubro Metro Rail (L&T), an Indian Multinational Company (MNC) with businesses in engineering, information & technology, construction, manufacturing among others, for their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative in sanitation.
They are now a preferred vendor for L&T and have installed 8 bio-toilet blocks at the L&T Metro construction sites and depots in Hyderabad. There are more follow-on orders in the pipeline.
They have also provided environment-friendly sanitation solutions and installed bio-toilet blocks construction sites for Shapoorji Pallonji, an Indian group with business interests in construction, real estate, power and finance among others, and International Paper, one of the world’s largest paper companies. There are more project orders from such companies on the anvil. They partner with NGOs that promote innovative sanitation technologies in villages for local community buy-in and implementation.
They have also had significant collaborations with PSUs. Their biggest client has been the Indian Railways. They have won bids through a tendering process to supply their innovative bio-technology products and services to the railways on specific rate contracts. They have also entered into an agreement for other services such as 2 AMCs for 4 years and sale of spares for Control Discharge Toilet System (CDTS) to the Indian Railways. This relationship has been productive and is expected to continue in the future.
Benefits to the Social Enterprise
Upscale and expansion
Banka BioLoo has been able to scale up rapidly as a result of these business partnerships. Corporates typically have large orders and these volumes have helped build a sustainable revenue stream. The technological innovation and design of toilets have assisted Banka BioLoo in enhancing the value proposition it delivers to its clients as well as the end users. They are able to expand without difficulty also because the toilets are mobile and therefore they can service corporate clients operating in far-flung areas at construction sites and industrial units in tough terrains where there is no sewerage facility.
Working with prominent companies such as L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, International Paper and the Indian Railways lends tremendous credibility to Banka BioLoo’s efforts. These partnerships provide immense visibility and act as endorsements for their excellent products and services and hence increase the possibility of other large companies sourcing the bio-toilets from them.
Partnering with large and eminent companies that also keep growing also leads to further possibilities for Banka BioLoo, often leading to repeat orders. An example of this is the Indian Railways which is undertaking the task of implementing bio-toilets in all trains and this will ensure that Banka BioLoo will get more orders. As it also provides several other services such as AMC, there are opportunities for additional sources of revenue.
Benefits to the Corporate Partners
Creating Value Addition
By partnering with Banka BioLoo, companies have been able to play a critical role in creating sustainable social impact among its workforce, in the communities in which they operate and in the case of the Indian Railways across the nation as a whole, helping address issues of sanitation, health and environmental sustainability. Supporting community based interventions such as this also help companies create visibility and reputation among its unskilled and contract workers.
By providing better sanitation facilities the companies are ensuring their workforce remains healthy by reducing the possibility of being inflicted with water-borne diseases. This is particularly beneficial when the companies have plants in areas that do not have existing access to good quality sanitation facilities. When the workforce is healthy they will be more productive and the company will benefit from more workdays.
The leveraging of technological innovations by Banka BioLoo also helps provide cost leadership and makes the delivery and service of sanitation infrastructure more affordable for its corporate customers.
Installation of bio-toilets in the coaches by the Indian Railways helps provide better service to its customers while also preventing human waste to be disposed on the tracks. There is an immense benefit to families that live close to rail tracks as they get fecal matter free environment. Improved customer satisfaction helps build a better image of the Railways among the travellers and they are more likely to use the services.
The partnerships that Banka BioLoo has built with the different types of companies are direct indications of the simplest means through which corporates can invest in clean sanitation practices. These partnerships are also examples of strategic CSR wherein companies are able to both fulfil business objectives through increased productivity with healthy workers and engage their community also consisting of their contract workers who are important stakeholders. This will especially be true for any company with a community presence, such as a manufacturing plant(s) or onsite construction. These partnerships also exemplify how partnering with a company can help a company scale in size and visibility very quickly.
- Photo Credit : http://www.bankabio.com/ (here)