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Manufacturing, Distributing and Installing low cost, efficient toilets in village homes.

Design & Develop a quick install toilet,implement a low cost distribution and installation system that is scaleable & replicable in Villages

Photo of Radhakrishnan Iyer
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This project aims at providing sanitation to rural areas by creating awareness, facilitating financing, developing a sustainable and low cost toilet and building the toilets and bathrooms in every household of villages in India.

This will be achieved through a working partnership between Local NGOs, Micro Finance corporations, State Governments and Local CSR Corporate funding. 

The project will have the following major activities:

  • Setting up of Central Coordination Facility as an Independent SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle)
  • All material will be centrally procured at Major cities in respective states
  • Production Facilities will be setup in different parts of the state according to Demand
  • There will be a combination of manufactured and bought out items
  • Each Toilet will have a set bill of materials and will be shipped as a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) set to each house site
  • Production personnel will be trained at each facility by qualified engineers• Assembly technicians will be trained on assembly of toilets
  • The production process will be initiated in a phased manner

Phase 1 (0-6 Weeks)

Setting up of Central Coordination Facility for design, planning, procurement, production engineering, finance & administration at Major port and or Transportation hub of the State

Phase 2 (6-14 Weeks)

Setting up of a pilot production facility in a block close to chosen city and train production personnel

We are ready to start the pilot run of the project. Once finance is in place we can set up a trial manufacturing unit and distribute and install 1000 toilets.

Phase 3 (14-18 Weeks)

Commence production, complete training of first batch of assembly technicians, initiate supply of CKD sets to villages and assemble toilets on site at the rate of 15 toilets a day from the first month.

Phase 4 (18 Weeks onwards)

Setup additional production facilities in District blocks according to demand with a maximum capacity of 1000 Sets per month per facility

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How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Ready for piloting

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

We have made an exhaustive study on the requirement in the State of Tamil Nadu. We can replicate this study in other states and get comprehensive data on the total requirement. The project envisaged is modular and can be scaled quickly by replicating the manufacturing facility and distribution system. Tamil Nadu is divided into 32 Districts which are divided into 397 blocks and 12620 Village Panchyats. All materials required for production and assembly except locally procured material will be purchased by the CCF (Central Coordination Facility) and transported to the block production facility. The CKD sets will be transported from the block production facility to each house site in villages according to demand. The project is immensely scalable because of its simple modular and localized operational model. The potential market just in Tamil Nadu is upwards of 15 Lakh toilets a year for the next 5 to 7 years. The replication of each production facility can be done in just 30 days

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

The project is based on a localized manufacturing and distribution system. It is not dependent of external market variances of other states or districts. Each manufacturing center will be operated as a profit center . This provides entrepreneurial opportunities in the following areas. * Franchising of block-wise production facility * Finance * Supply of concrete, raw materials and other items * Security * Distribution & Transportation * Assembly of Toilets Each production facility with a capacity of 1000 toilets per month can potentially employ 15 people from the local village. The production facility can produce other housing structures as may be locally required. The total villages in just Tamil Nadu alone is 79360 habitations, with an average of 200 households in each of them. Our proposed system is: Scalable - Single unit to multi thousand units Replicable - Multiple production facilities can be setup easily Quality - Assured uniform specification & quality Speed of Construction - 25 units per technician per month Cost - Cost effective without compromise on quality Durability - All materials used are 100% weather proof Maintenance - Very low and efficient

What types of financing would be required for your idea to be successful?

Financing for this project is split into 3 (Three) phases. Phase I - Study and Pilot manufacturing facility. Phase II - Research and Development and improvement in materials, manufacturing, and process Phase III -Setting up each manufacturing facility The pilot project is envisaged as being set up in Chennai and requires funds for: Setting up of Central Coordination Facility as an Independent SPV in Chennai Setting up of Central Warehousing close to Chennai Setting up of Pilot Production Facility in a district block Training facility for Production Personnel & Assembly Technicians We expect to raise funding from organizations working in the area of water and sanitation, CSR funds from corporates and other philanthropic donations. We will also explore possibility of long term debt funding from financial institutions. The funding for Phase II of the project is the key for developing the model and starting Phase III which is setting up of individual manufacturing units. The funding for Phase III can be calculated exactly after the success of Phase i and Phase II. This will also depend upon how many localized manufacturing facility we decide to set up. The Initial funding will cover Pilot project, marketing, R&D and setting up 3 localized manufacturing facility , manpower recruitment and Installation training. We would require Rs.2,50,00,000/- as initial funding which will take us thru Phase I and Phase II. Approximately Rs 2.50 Crores

If you are proposing to partner with other organizations, please explain their role and reason for partnership.

In any social initiative we feel its important to engage with smart partnerships. We will be looking to partners who are NGOs working in rural areas and understand the local area, people, language, customs and can effectively carry our schemes into villages. Our aim is to sell the concept and product together. We will look for partnerships is the following areas: NGOs for raising CSR Funding Project Implementors NGOs for Creating awareness Product manufacturing (We can explore the franchise model) Distributors The need for partners in this venture is apparent simply because of the vast reach required into remote village areas of India. There are several good NGOs based all over India that are capable of partnering with us. In our experience we have worked with several partners and found contribution from them in specific areas immensely valuable.

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

If you have been operating in India, what has been your focus?

I have been actively engaged in infrastructure building and rehabilitation for the past 10 years. I have partnered with NGOs to build housing for Tsunami victims, built hospital under the public private partnership. I have supervised, managed and built over 85 structures in both housing and commercial sector. I have supervised building of toilets for communities and schools in Tamil Nadu. I have designed and implemented low cost individual toilet construction.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • Yes

What states or districts will you target/are you targeting within India?

We plan to initially start with the state of Tamil Nadu. The three districts that surround Chennai are: * Chengalpattu * Kanchipuram * Thirvalluvar Chennai being a large metro, it will be easy to get qualified engineers, designers & manufacturing experts. Material procurement will also be easy to procure since this is a construction hub of the state. We plan to set up the pilot manufacturing plants in each of these districts so that initial supervision and management becomes easier.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a veteran of over 40 years in manufacturing, construction. I studied at the University of San Francisco and lived and worked in the US for over 20 years. I am passionate about improving and creating innovative solutions that contribute to the water and sanitation in India. My passion is not just thematic , jumping on the bandwagon of our PM's slogan of "Swatch Bharat" or the ODF India, It is a personal passion as I have traveled thru many villages in India and feel the struggle of the villagers. The health, safety and dignity that is sacrificed by the women is truly heart wrenching. My plan is to start at the local level, prove the design, implement the design and production, make it ready for replication and finally become the one stop solution for manufacturing facilities for low cost and efficient toilets in India. Encouragement and support from organizations like you will make my vision a reality and make Indian Villages self sufficient in water and sanitation.

Is this a new or recent idea for your organization? How does it differ from what you are already doing?

This is a new idea. Till now we have been building or supporting building of toilets on site using conventional methods. It has a lot of disadvantages. Atypical design of toilets both in structure, use and environment friendly methods. Cumbersome construction methodology. Diversion of either loan or subsidy funding into purchase of other household items Inordinate delay owing to the difficulty in finding masons for work. The twin pit model is the most recommended for most of the rural areas in India and this is the only model that is eligible for subsidy from the Government as it does not require recurrent expenses by way of cleaning the septic tank. The masons are unskilled in setting up the twin pit toilet, leading to more expense or not fulfilling their expectation forcing them to go back to their old ways. They discourage the other villagers from building a toilet based on their bad experience caused by incorrect choice. The idea recommended will eliminate the above .

What are the two or three biggest risks for your idea and how will you manage the risks?

This project has three potential risk factors. • Financial • Logistics. • Acceptance of this model Financial: Risk: Non availability of subsidy and Micro Financing Non availability of Funds for construction Utilisation of loan amount for other purposes Explanation: MFA loan should cover 85% of the cost. Funds should be routed to the construction agency. Consolidating the entire requirement of each village reduces cost. The Central Government has issued joint subsidy to the State Government of Rs.12500 per toilet. Logistics: Risk: The breakdown or slowdown of distribution to the village. Explanation: We may have to set up distribution by engaging local transporters to distribute the Kit. Acceptance Risk: The villagers are conservative. It will be difficult to accept something new and may believe that a kit form toilet may not be strong. Explanation: We can set up a few model toilets in the villages and get them to see and use it.

How would you propose to track or record the households or customers reached?

Each village/ Panchayat will have either self help group, women’s cooperative, a citizen coordinator, or a Panchayat union leader. These are an excellent source of contact. We will engage a woman in each village who will be trained to coordinate all activities and report. These coordinators will report thru a simple app on a smart phone/ Tab which will include all details, plus photos showing progress, etc. The data will be shared with the Government , MFAs and the funding agency.

If you had two years and $250,000 USD in funding, how many households or customers would you reach?

The funding will be used to set up pilot manufacturing hubs initially and to create a prototype manufacturing unit. The scope of households reached is enormous. If we take only 3 districts initially in the first 2 years and we establish manufacturing hubs in only 5 blocks of each district we have a total of 15 blocks. Each manufacturing hub can potentially produce an average of 8 toilets a day. This will mean an output of 120 toilets per day or approximately 36,000 toilets per year (300 work days a year). In two years the output will be 72,000 toilets. We should be able to add a minimum of 10 manufacturing hubs per year which means the output can potentially increase to 60,000 toilets the second year and increase by 24,000 toilets every year till we achieve a production of 250,000 toilets per year. Specifically the reach in two years will be 96,000 households (36,000 first year + 60,000 Second year) which translates into an impact cost of $2.60 per household. ($250,000 / 90,000)

How would you propose to invest $250,000 USD if you received philanthropic/grant funding support from

The funding received will be utilised for the following activities. • Design and development of toilet • Producing 10 prototypes in phase I • Testing , Installation and feedback from villagers • Re-Design , Producing 10 prototypes in phase II • Developing Manufacturing procedure • Creating awareness films and campaigns • Setting up of manufacturing hub for producing kits • Producing 50 prototypes and installing in villages • Making training material for toilet installation • Establishing State wise procurement and coordinating center • Developing logistics for distribution • Developing Mobile based App for coordinating, reporting and tracking and developing database for future research • Training of women coordinators/reporters in 50 Villages • Making of films for instructions for maintenance of toilets • Creating toilet maintenance kits

What type of support beyond grant funding are you most interested in?

The key elements for success of this project as we see are: Funding for activities as stated above Funding for setting up entrepreneurial manufacturing hubs Research and design assistance for refining toilet design Manufacturing technology assistance Material technology MFA and or other funding agency to assist in loans to villagers Agencies for creative communication Interaction with organizations engaged in similar activities Macro Level Advisory assistance from Water.Org

Does your organization have Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) approval?

I am a trustee, Secretary and treasurer of an NGO that has FCRA approval and can work thru my NGO. We are a reputed NGO that have in the past executed projects with foreign funds.


Join the conversation:

Photo of vijay sampath

Dear Radhakrishnan,
I would like to discuss with you about building a modular water kiosk for villages using eco friendly products that are available in the market. My goal is to build a modular system 10ftx6 ft max that can be assembled on site by one person in less than a day. Systems should be easily transportable.
Do you think we can work together on this?

Photo of Radhakrishnan Iyer

Dear Vijay

As water and sanitation are my key areas of focus im open to discussions and can explore avenues of mutual interests. The idea is to use collabodative strengths is accomplishing our goals.


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