Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Competition Year: 2010

Sanergy generates electricity and fertilizer through providing safe, affordable sanitation in the slums of Kenya

Health and Medical Energy and Environment Water and Sanitation Finance and Entrepreneurship Agriculture and Processing

  • Team Members
  • A. Vallabhaneni
  • D. Auerbach
  • N. Sharpe
  • B. Moncivaiz


Alumni Video Pitch: Sanergy

Quick Links

Our Pitch

More than 2.6 billion people lack access to sanitation in the developing world. This leads to over 1.7 million deaths each year through water-borne diarrheal diseases, and the loss of over $84 billion in worker productivity. The problems are particularly acute in our initial market, Kenya, where 10 million people live in slums and only 80% do not have adequate sanitation. Sanergy produces electricity and fertilizer by converting the waste from our sanitation facilities throughout the slums of Kenya by creating a sustainable sanitation cycle. Sanergy's model involves three actions: (i) creating a network of franchised sanitation centers in slums, (ii) collecting the waste produced, and (iii) processing it into biomethane and fertilizer. Through each action, Sanergy creates jobs, opportunity, and profit, while simultaneously addressing serious social needs.


Provide sanitation for 1000 households


2010 Yunus Challenge: Clean Hands

Who We Are

We are a multi-disciplinary team from across MIT. Ella Peinovich is a masters student in Architecture. Joel Veenstra is a senior in Civil Enginerring. Nathan Cooke is a designer at D-Lab. Nathan Sharpe is an alumni of Mechanical Engineering. Benji Moncivaiz is a senior in Mechanical Engineering. David Auerbach and Ani Vallabhaneni are second-year MBA students.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Carolina for Kibera


Nairobi, Kenya


Named a TIME Magazine and Gates Foundation “Hero of Global Health,” Carolina For Kibera (CFK) fights abject poverty and helps prevent violence through community-based development in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya and beyond.


  • Service Location
    Kibera, Kenya
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Comments and Support

  • I live in Kolkata, India. I have read about your amazing toilet set ups in the slums of Africa & was very keen to start such a project in my city. Here too we have several slums & I really feel the girls & women do not have any proper toilet facility. This basic amenity that is missing in their lives, I feel, in turn leads to several major social issues. Not only poor health & hygiene but this also causes them to run away from their so called homes looking for a better life & ending up in disaster. i would really appreciate if you could let me know how I can start this & would really appreciate your organization's help in this. Regards Urmi Basu

    Posted by urmi basu on Wed, Jun 3rd 2015, 04:42 Report Abuse

  • Hi Sanergy, Just wanted to make you aware of an opportunity with the Gates Foundation as they have a challenge called "Reinventing the Toilet" for which you may qualify. Best of Luck, Anjuli

    Posted by A. Jain on Tue, May 8th 2012, 16:38 Report Abuse

  • The organization I work for partners with schools and congregations in a rural area of western Kenya to support orphaned children and their families. One of the things the schools are doing is creating community gardens to support a school lunch program. These same schools lack sanitary toilets, so projects like yours are of great interest. If there is funding, would you ever consider a pilot project in western Kenya?

    Posted by Ellen Daniels-Howell on Sat, Jan 21st 2012, 07:06 Report Abuse

  • I would like directions to your Kenya location in Kibera to have a face to face discussion and how i can play a role in your fight. Talk to u soon !!

    Posted by Michael Kinyoro on Wed, Jan 18th 2012, 02:04 Report Abuse

  • Sam Gichia is the M.D of Cobitech, a biogas construction company from Kenya. We do biogas plants for domestic households utilizing livestock waste as feedstock and at institutional level i.e schools and bus parks utilizing human waste as feedstock. I would like to learn more from you, the management of the effluent into fertilizer and how to optimize gas production from the human waste fed biogas plant. Thanks for the good work!!

    Posted by Sam Gichia on Thu, Aug 18th 2011, 11:12 Report Abuse

  • I'm ready to help you but only in June and July . It's a great idea to help Kenyans to over come the Environmental problems there.

    Posted by g. nagy on Fri, May 6th 2011, 17:35 Report Abuse

  • I whole-heartedly applaud your efforts!! I visited the staff and the amazingly strong and proud young ladies at Carolina for Kibera in June 2007, and was very impressed with thier efforts. While I am NOT a patent attorney or agent, I would be happy to discuss basic US and International IP issues with you from the my perspective as social entrepreneur. Also happy to advise on engineering issues, etc. Cheers, -John 703-980-1189

    Posted by John R Essig on Mon, Jan 3rd 2011, 17:54 Report Abuse

  • R. Cohen, I wonder whether you've had a chance to view the video above? I think it does a great job describing Sanergy's implementation plans:

    Posted by Lars Hasselblad Torres on Sun, Oct 24th 2010, 15:51 Report Abuse

  • This seems like a great idea. How are you going to implement it, though? Do you have a partner in funding, resources, or the like?

    Posted by R. Cohen on Wed, Apr 21st 2010, 14:58 Report Abuse

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