In its 2013 – 2015 strategic plan Friends of Ngong Road set a goal of launching a for-profit business in Kenya in 2014-2015. The objectives for this business creation are to:
- Generate a stream of income to support our mission of educating children in Nairobi’s slums
- Provide employment for graduates of our program.
During 2015, we conducted a pilot project for a portable toilet business we branded Karibu Loo (KL). “Karibu” means “welcome” in Swahili and “Loo” is well-understood as a word for “toilet” in Kenya due to its colonial British past. The integrated tagline in the round red logo says “helping educate children” to clearly state the business’ purpose. Our positioning is to provide a clean, high quality portable toilet experience while also allowing clients to know they are acting as responsible corporate citizens by supporting an organization that uses its profits to educate impoverished Kenyan children. More information is available on the Karibu Loo website.
Our business model is based on establishing a profitable business that delivers funds to our charitable organization in Nairobi to lower the donated funds we need to raise, thereby allowing for program growth and sustainability. Our vision was that 25% of the operating expenses of our education-supporting organization in Kenya will be generated by KL. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit KL hard and will struggle to breakeven in 2020. KL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FoNR.
KL makes money by charging a competitive rate for cabin rental, providing superior service and maintaining the quality of the rental experience. Extraordinary transport and servicing costs are also billed to clients at a premium.
Currently, KL is a small business, with 105 cabins. The business is led by Steve Muendo, the Acting Business Manager, who was formerly the Operations Manager. Marketing and Sales oversight is provided from volunteers in the U.S. We now employ five of our graduates full time in marketing (1), bookkeeping (1), and operations (3). Our Associates program has employed over 50 recent high school graduates and has shown them the importance of showing up for work on time, properly dressed, and able to complete the tasks assigned in a positive and engaged manner.
KL is advised by:
|Paula Meyer, founder and current president of FoNR and KL boards||Raj Bains, managing director, Kim-Fay (Kimberly Clark’s affiliate in Nairobi), KL board member|
|Keith Kale, international business veteran, FoNR and KL board member||Boniface Kariuki, vice president, Diversey F&B (a division of Bain Capital) based in South Africa, KL board member|
|Amy Johnson, former executive at Ameriprise, FoNR board member||Brian Hartart, executive at Ameriprise, FoNR and KL board member|
|Michael Switzer, former KL general manager, recent University of Minnesota M.B.A., currently employed at 3M in Investor Relations|
KL began in 2015 as a pilot with 28 cabins and a truck/exhauster. In 2016, KL hired a local leader and expanded the business by 60 cabins, a VIP cabin and a pickup truck. We lost a year between mid-2016 and mid-2017 dealing with the poor leadership decision, correcting that mistake, and establishing a new leader in July 2017. After hiring our current leader, the business gained traction again, but COVID-19 has proven to be a major set-back.
Karibu Loo has gone from an idea to an established business. Accomplishments include:
- Successful completion of a pilot in 2015 and early 2016 with 28 cabins and one truck/exhauster.
- Growth in cabin count to 88 and infrastructure including a larger storage and servicing yard, resulting in losses that were absorbed with contributions from FoNR.
- Expanded board of directors to include two Kenyan business leaders.
- Won the MICE Award for best sanitation company in Kenya.
- Securing major clients such as the British Army, Chinese and other construction companies, and churches for Sunday service weekly plus funerals and weddings.
For more information: