The toilet system and the whole concept of development work – that takes a needs-based holistic perspective – have been well received by the United Nations and other organisations. Their invention recently won the regional SKAPA/CREATE Award and this autumn they will be competing against other innovators from all over Sweden in the national finals.
TURNS WASTE INTO VALUE
Christer Nersjö and Henrik Smedberg’s business concept is essentially about turning a problem into a resource.
“We ensure that everyone gets access to a toilet and you can exchange the waste products you accumulate during a set time period for money. It’s about creating value, says Christer Nersjö.”
The system aims to create new business opportunities for local populations in developing countries. When the toilets are full, a local employee will collect the waste, pay the user and take the waste to a processing plant, where the material is sanitised and converted to biogas for domestic use, or fertiliser for local agriculture. The waste collector gets paid, then the waste processors, and so on, with the value of the outgoing product increasing at every transaction stage.
“Of course there are challenges, but technical problems can always be solved. The most difficult tasks are implementing a transformation and making it work. The easiest way is to inject financial incentives – in other words, money.”
SOLAR POWERED AND ALARM EQUIPPED
The toiletcabinets are delivered as flatpacks. They are easy to assemble, powered by solar energy and wirelessly connected to the network. The administrator is alerted when they need emptying. There is a special gender focus, since women are frequently attacked in connection with toilet visits. Mundati toilets are equipped with LED lighting and alarms for increased safety.
These toilets have several intelligent solutions, e.g. their adaptability to different positions if people prefer to sit, squat or stand when they use the toilets. They are also available in self-disinfecting versions that help to minimise the spread of infection.
“The cabinets with their associated parts form the foundation on which the entire system is built. While they constitute the core that has brought us here, our leverage comes from the related business concepts, services and facilities. This is what Mundati is. This is what sets us apart.”
In one short year, much has happened for the company. At conferences in Copenhagen, Geneva and Brussels, they have forged contacts with organisations including the UN, Business Sweden and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Everyone has been very positive to their concept.
“People appreciate our distinctly needs-based approach, as well as the way we see the product from a sustainable, circular perspective.”
PROJECT IN SOUTH AFRICA
Paper Province participated in a recently completed pilot study on the circular perspective. The purpose of the study was to find the best materials for recycling and energy efficiency.
“We realised that there was potential in the company, valued it and launched a local campaign to source funding from companies and private individuals in the area who were interested in investing money in Mundati.”
In the spring of 2017, Mundati launched a project in South Africa in association with the University of South Africa (UNISA).
“The purpose of the project is to deliver generic models which will give us the tools to implement the system and the business model in South Africa, and also home in on other market segments and countries.”
RED CROSS AND UN ARE INTERESTED
Product testing is planned in collaboration with the Red Cross during the first quarter of 2018. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) also wants to try out the Mundati system. A classic concept has also recently been revived in association with the UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
“We will be looking into a project about crisis relief and disaster relief relating to the sale of forestry raw products to the UN. But this project is only in its startup phase at present.”
What role has Paper Province played for you?
“They have helped us to create contacts with various experts. It is a great advantage to be able to show that we come from a world-leading cluster for research into bio-based raw materials, Nersjö admits.”