By Erin McCusker, Senior Vice President, Leader, SATO and LIXIL Public Partners, LIXIL
SATO uses our customer-centric approach to create innovative, relevant toilet and hygiene products that meet the diverse needs of consumers. However, in order to overcome the stark challenge of reaching the 3.6 billion people who continue to be without safely managed sanitation, the right products alone are not sufficient.
We need to remove all barriers to consumers upgrading their sanitation and hygiene if we are to accelerate progress. Product availability is a barrier, and we are constantly enhancing our distribution capability and seeking partners and new mechanisms for increasing reach. Another barrier is affordability, particularly in Asia and Africa, where as many as 40% of people continue to live in extreme poverty.
To tackle affordability both for consumers building toilets, and for the entrepreneurs building a viable business, SATO is joining with FINISH Mondial, a partnership for financial inclusion that aims to create sustainable change and increase access to safe sanitation through economic empowerment. Specialists in connecting underserved communities to financial services, FINISH Mondial helped more than eight million people access safely managed sanitation over the last 12 years, mobilising an estimated US$280m of investment in this area for households and communities.
SATO and FINISH Mondial share several target markets in East Africa and in South Asia, specifically Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, India, and Bangladesh. We will seek greater scale and efficiency in these markets to provide opportunities for consumers and small businesses, with a particular focus on women, to have better toilet systems in their local markets and homes.
It is important to remember that effective sanitation does not begin and end with the toilet; resilient and effective solutions like ours require robust supply chains, local expertise to construct and install toilets, as well as ongoing maintenance and emptying work. Combining our solutions and financing, we will accelerate the development of affordable and effective sanitation markets, ensuring consumers can continue to purchase high-quality products, and — importantly — reduce gaps in working capital for businesses specialising in construction of toilets, and in aftercare services and maintenance.
SATO partners to tackle gaps and barriers to effective sanitation markets. The new partnership with FINISH Mondial can have a positive impact across the whole value chain, creating dependable employment opportunities, driving new innovations and contributing towards a wider sanitation economy.