Innovate4Water in Kisumu: local and international players explore opportunities for partnerships

More than 160 participants, representing (social) entrepreneurs, innovators, utilities, impact investors, financiers, local banks, NGOs etc. gathered at Innovate4Water in Kisumu (Kenya) on 6 and 7 February, to explore opportunities in the field of partnerships, financing and investments. The format of the event was a marketplace forum with short pitches and networking discussions.

On 7 February our Managing Director Sjef Ernes led a session on ‘Sanitation Value Chain and Financing’ and he summed up the opportunities of investing in the sanitation market in his presentation ‘Sanitation: USD100+ billion market untapped’:

o  There is a $100+ billion investment opportunity waiting, with about 2.4 billion user’s market.
Kenya loses an estimated $324 million due to poor sanitation.
o  Referring to the Toilet Board Coalition’s work, opportunities in toilet economy, circular
sanitation economy and smart toilet economy were also highlighted.

His conclusion was that we should see “Sanitation as a tool for progress, not as a problem to worry about”.

During the ‘Sanitation Value Chain and Financing’ session we offered the opportunity to three proven cases to present their work and trigger some wider discussions. The presenters included Sanivation (install toilets for free in people’s homes and homeowners pay a fee for sewage collection), FINISH Mondial (Financial INclusion Improves Sanitation & Health) and WSUP (Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor).

The key messages from Aqua for All during the Sanitation session are:
o The public sector should work closely with the private sector and benefit from innovative and scalable solutions to meet SDG 6.
o  The finance sector should be involved from the beginning.
Make smarter use of grants to unlock private capital.

Without a doubt we can say that it was a very promising forum and we can conclude that:

Great innovations are taking place in the Kenyan innovation ecosystem. 
Need to work with government and water service providers. There is no way around bringing innovations and scalable ideas without engaging with them.
o  Need for aggregating innovative solutions and creating larger value for households/utilities/
other users.
Need for aggregation of investable opportunities for private investments and commercial financing.

Over 50 innovative and scalable ideas/initiatives were pitched, and we offered the first five partnerships emerging from the forum to be considered for support by Aqua for All (after a thorough review).