This is my first post on the Via Water community and I could not find a better title for this post. Garv toilets, is a young start-up from India working on provision of Smart Toilet Solutions which are eco-friendly, self-sustainable and indestructable. While we have been working in India and Bhutan for the past two years through our Smart toilet products for underserved communities in Urban and peri-urban areas; we got this amazing opportunity to pilot our products and business model in Accra, Ghana through the Via Water Accelerator.
The accelerator proved to be a very beneficial exercise for us in designing and improving our business model, revisiting our assumptions, risk mitigation and other minute aspects that we might have ignored otherwise like proper selection of local partners. Working with mentors, experts through Aqua for All over a period of about 4 months was really worth it.
We had a mix of cheers and apprehensions when our project was approved for inception phase in Accra. This was supposed to be our first step in the West-African region, a totally different geography to test the replicability and scalability of our product and business model. Our team had a firm faith in the performance and acceptability of our products as well as our local partners in Ghana. As the project rolled-out in Accra, we had to check acceptability of our product/business idea with all stakeholders especially the local Government and the communities. Our partners in ATCWAR, IRC wash and liasioning officers through Via Water, were immensly helpful in connecting us with the right decision makers in the community and the government. While we faced our set of challenges that any innovative idea would face in a developing country, our idea and business model was accepted with open arms by all the stakeholders. The response from urban slum communities and government departments in Accra and Greater Accra region was phenomenal. As we presented our product, we also realised that there is huge requirement and buy-in for the innovative Public Sanitation Solutions in Ghana. The government officials curiously inquired about some of our product features and accessories and accepted that this set of equipment could be a huge hit in the Ghanaian markets.
District assemblies in different regions have offered to Partner with us in the Ghana Sanitation Challenge and we were also able to get confirmed commercial orders for some of the sites through the assemblies. Our focus still remains at the replication and scaling up of the business model that we have designed under the Via Water program that offers clean, hygienic and properly maintained eco-friendly public toilet facilities to the urban slum communities at the lowest possible costs.
We were completely mesmerized by the friendly and warm welcome we received in Accra. An innovative Indian product was warmly greeted by the Ghanaian community for the benefit of underserved, which brings me back to explaining the title of this post, "Ghanaians welcome and greet their guests by saying Akwaaba; Indians do it by saying Namaste".