Tech startup Sanergy secures US$2.5m funding from Japanese investor JICA

KENYASanergy, a tech-enabled startup and the owner of the Fresh Life toilets franchise, has received US$2.5 million funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

This is in an effort to address the city’s growing sanitation needs while also helping farmers across Kenya produce more crops with fertilizer produced as a byproduct.

Sanergy plans to expand its reach into additional African and Southeast Asian cities, on the wings of the investment.

“We are thrilled to expand Sanergy’s pioneering circular economy model which solves multiple social problems, such as waste management, sanitation, agricultural productivity and food security, that most countries in Africa commonly face,” said Shohei Hara, director general of JICA’s Private Sector Partnership and Finance Department.

JICA will continue to develop partnerships with wider stakeholders in tackling with these social problems.”

According to the Japanese government-backed aid agency, the creation of the alternative protein feed comes amid increased need for such feed to produce more livestock and fish via aquaculture.

Sanergy was founded in 2010 by former MIT students David Auerbach, Lindsay Stradley, and Ani Vallabhaneni to franchise sanitation units across Nairobi’s urban slums, providing an economical and effective alternative to sewers.

The company uses a circular economy approach to trash collection, collecting feces and other organic waste from markets, farms, and restaurants and turning it into useful products like feed and biofuel.

The company claims to have over 3,500 FRESH LIFE toilets, serving over 120,000 residents per day.

Sanergy also makes an organic crop fertilizer out of the leftover biowaste after the black soldier flies have eaten it.

Some of the residue is converted into biomass briquettes, which are utilized in industrial boilers and other heating purposes. KuzaPro, an insect feed created from the larvae of black army flies that feed on biowaste, is produced and sold at Sanergy’s pilot plant.

The company opened its first organics recycling factory in Nairobi in 2015, with a capacity of 12,000 tons of garbage per year. It has also been running East Africa’s largest insect feed mill since earlier this year, according to the company.

Sanergy additionally connects with its network and improves its service by using two mobile applications, as well as mobile money, data collection, and street mapping technology.

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