Winifred Karugu is currently the Managing Director (MD) of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Enterprises (JKUATES), a company that is 100% owned by the University. She is based in the University’s Main Campus at Juja, in Kenya. The Company is the commercial wing of JKUAT and engages in direct linkages with industry through training, consultancy and related activities. She had also served as a director of the JKUATES for three years before her appointment as MD. Prior to this appointment, which took place in February 2008, Winifred was the Director of the School for Human Resources Development, which houses Business and Humanities at the University, a position that she held for four years. Winifred also lectures in economics and marketing courses units at the university. She also engages in research and consultancy. She has published several articles in refereed journals and written several business cases both teaching and analytical. Her research interests include pro-poor business models, SME growth strategies in emerging markets and gender & technology transfer. Winifred is a member of: Academy of Management (AoM), International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE), Africa Technology and Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and Kenya Association of Business and Management Professionals (KABMAP). Find below selected publications of her work.
Ecotact is a company that provides low-income people with the most basic of necessities: affordable sanitation in pleasant surroundings within urban areas, with particular emphasis on the most disadvantaged areas such as urban slums.
To download the Ecotact case study from the GIM database, please click here.
What is Ecotact’s basic value proposition and what makes its financial model sustainable?
Ecotact’s main value proposition is the provision of affordable and pleasant sanitation options to the masses that previously had few and often unpleasant options available when they were out and about. Ecotact facilities now routinely provide comfort and dignity to middle and lower income customers but for the lowest end of the market, Ecotact provides even greater value in that they now have access to facilities that were not available to them before. Slum dwellers often lack privacy in matters of sanitation and hygiene and the options available are often substandard and seriously overcrowded. In addition to this security is often an issue. Slum dwellers therefore greatly appreciate access to warm showers and clean toilets in secure and pleasant surroundings. The franchise model creates value for would be entrepreneurs.
What are the main benefits of using a franchise model for the Ikotoilets?
The franchise model is of benefit to society in that there is rapid expansion of the facilities. Entrepreneurs benefit in that their capital input is lower, the standardization inherent in such models gains the trust of the public, ensuring a reliable market.
What are the main challenges facing Ecotact’s scale up and replication?
The main challenges faced by Ecotact in their efforts to scale-up include the fact that land in urban centres is not readily available and is very expensive as well. Municipal land is more available but subject to politicization. So far the real problem currently facing Ecotact is that the demand for their services far outstrips their ability to provide.
What makes this public-private partnership model successful and what more can government do to ensure access to sanitation to improve the lives of people living in informal settlements?
This private-public partnership has been successful due to the fact that it is a win-win situation all round. The municipals gain by cleaner, more environmentally friendly towns, the facilities will end up in their hands eventually and the public is more dignified. Ecotact gains financially and the public is much more comfortable. Government can help this process by encouraging similar entrepreneurial activity especially where the most vulnerable people reside.
What would you say was critical about the actor ecosystem that enabled this business to be successful?
My opinion is that the success of this process was largely driven by the success and sheer determination of the CEO of Ecotact. He is driven more by a desire to do something about squalor than by profits.