Increasing Frugality in an Already Frugal Organization

It’s only May, but SOIL is already planning out the strategy for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which starts August 1st. As the Marketing and Sales Advisor in SOIL, I’ve been involved in the strategy planning for EkoLakay (SOIL’s household toilet service), EkoMobil (SOIL’s mobile toilet service), and SOIL’s waste treatment and compost production. It’s been exciting to see our team’s progress from the past two years that I’ve been participating in these strategy planning meetings.

A new customer on SOIL’s growing EkoLakay service, April 2017.

A new customer on SOIL's growing EkoLakay service, April 2017.

A new customer on SOIL’s growing EkoLakay service, April 2017.

The biggest difference is this year’s unanimous focus on business principles that will help SOIL to streamline operations, increase cost recovery, and prepare for scale-up. We have EAWAGPartners Worldwide, and Ernst & Young to thank for this, as these institutions provided trainings and consultancy that have had a huge impact on our mindset.

As SOIL’s Port-au-Prince EkoLakay Director Herby Sanon said, “The workshops and presentations in this past year have helped me to see that the EkoLakay service needs to reduce the variable costs per unit before we focus on getting a ton of clients. Right now we’re losing too much money each time we add another client, and we can’t cover all of the costs by raising the price. We need to reduce costs and set a solid foundation for scaling up.”

So what will this look like on the ground? We will continue transitioning all of our clients to mobile payments, increase the density of clients in our service areas, and secure the supply chain for essential items like toilet seats and cover material.

It won’t be easy to reduce costs for already-frugal SOIL. We need to ensure that we continue to offer high-quality services that respect all of the norms and regulations for the containment, transport, and treatment of human waste, so there are many costs that are inherent. But given that we have an unflagging dedication to developing truly sustainable solutions, getting down to brass tacks is our best way forward.

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