Founded in 2010 by Ani Vallabhaneni, David Auerbach, Lindsay Stradley, and Nathan Cooke, Sanergy promotes an innovative circular-economy approach in Nairobi, Kenya. The firm collects human waste from sanitary toilets located in slum areas and other organic waste around the city, and transforms the waste into insect feed, organic fertilizer, and biofuel in its factory, using the Black Soldier Flies (BSF).
Kenya’s capital and largest city Nairobi had a population of 3.04 million in 2009, which is expected to reach 5.94 million by 2030. As the population increases, the waste volume of the city is likely to go from 1,848 tons per day in 2009 to 3,990 tons per day in 2030.
However, about half of Nairobi’s waste is dumped illegally, and the collected waste of 1.8 million m3 is brought into waste disposal sites that have a capacity for processing only 0.5 million m3.
In addition, the Kenya sewer system is connected to only around 12% of properties, and human waste often seeps away around dwellings, so there is a reason for concern over the effect this has on residents’ water, hygiene, and health, especially in the slums where low-income families live.
Sanergy, which has pioneered an innovative circular economy business, contributes to solving a number of social problems such as waste processing, public hygiene, farm productivity, and increasing food supplies.
Supported with funding from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USDFC), Sanergy has built the largest insect feed factory in East Africa, which started up in 2021.
JICA has a long history of helping waste management and agricultural development in Kenya and will leverage its experience to assist in the company’s factory operations and business development.
The problems of waste management and farming productivity are not limited to Kenya but are also present in many African countries, and Sanergy is preparing to expand its business to other countries starting in East Africa. JICA will leverage its network to solve these social problems not only in Kenya but also in other African countries.
At this funding round, JICA is co-investing with private sector investors such as an impact investing fund managed by AXA IM Alts, a global leader in alternative investments with c. €163 billion of assets under management.
Novastar Ventures which operates a venture capital (VC) fund manager with more than $200 million assets under management in Africa, Finnfund which is a Finnish development financial institution, and Kepple Africa Ventures which is a Japanese VC directed toward Africa are existing investors of Sanergy.