Sulabh International (Sulabh), a not-for profit social organization, was founded by social entrepreneur Bindeshwar Pathak (Pathak) with the aim of finding a solution to the sanitation problem and emancipating human scavengers who had the inhuman task of cleaning bucket toilets in the villages of India and carrying night soil on their heads for disposal.
Fired by a desire to liberate scavengers from the inhuman task of scavenging, Pathak started Sulabh in 1970 to deal with two pressing challenges in India – poor hygiene and discrimination. After much research, he designed the two pit pour-flush compost toilet known as Sulabh Shauchalaya (meaning Latrines made Easy) as a replacement for bucket toilets used across most of the villages in India. The ecological compost toilets not only provided low-cost environmentally-friendly toilets to millions of people in India but also ensured freedom to scavengers from manual scavenging. The scavengers were rehabilitated by Sulabh to ensure that poverty would not force them back into this profession.
By early 2019, Sulabh was maintaining 9000 pay-and-use toilets and had rehabilitated more than 1 million scavengers. Sulabh had set up 1.5 million individual toilets and 60 million government toilets had been constructed based on the Sulabh design. While Sulabh’s business model was widely hailed as sustainable and also replicated around the world, the pay-and-use model still faced challenges. In several urban slums, people still preferred to defecate in the open as most of them were unable to either afford the pay-and-use facilities or were unwilling to do so. In addition to this, Sulabh also had to tackle the challenge of changing the behavior of people and encouraging them to use toilets as most of the men in villages preferred defecating in the open though they had access to toilets because of cultural reasons or from force of habit.
PayPal (11 USD)
The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
Understand and explore ways in which a social entrepreneur can build a sustainable business in developing nations while addressing some of the most pressing issues such as poor hygiene and discrimination.
Analyze the effectiveness of Sulabh’s business models and explore ways in which it can be made more effective and sustainable.
Design a comprehensive social entrepreneurship framework.
Understand the issues and challenges faced by Sulabh in making India open-defecation free.
Inclusive business model; Social entrepreneur; Social entrepreneurship; Sustainability; Sustainable sanitation; Social discrimination; Human scavengers; Pay-and-use toilets; Sustainable business model; Build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) model; Waste management; Rehabilitation; Open-defecation free; Clean India Campaign