Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
081: Changing the World, One Toilet at a Time with Jasmine Burton

081: Changing the World, One Toilet at a Time with Jasmine Burton

Jasmine Burton, an inspirational 24-year-old running a startup in Africa, hopes to improve women’s health via redesign of water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure - sparking the foundation of Wish for Wash. In this episode, you’ll learn how a variety of waste management gaps exist despite how far the western world has advanced the human experience. This creates an odd disparity between knowing that billions of people defecate in buckets and bags, yet are using smartphones to WhatsApp message each other. 

Jasmine speaks on the challenges of making the cost per unit to be under $20, and how to make it affordable to the low-income communities that need the product most.

Key Takeaways:

[00:10] According to the UN, 6 billion people have access to mobile phones. Yet, only 4.5 billion have access to working toilets.

[01:15] Jasmine’s senior design team won the InVenture competition for their design of an inexpensive mobile toilet.

[02:55] Jasmine explains her journey from Georgia to Zambia, and how her company is inspired by how access to toilets hinders women’s advancement worldwide.

[04:30] Her team was the first all-female team to win the Georgia Tech InVenture competition.

[05:00] At the end of 2014, she founded Wish for Wash and moved to Zambia to join a global health initiative, and now self-identifies as a “toilet designer”.

[07:45] The need for healthy food is much easier to communicate than the need for good sanitation, making it difficult to convince people to change their behavior.

[11:21] There’s nothing “wrong” with the way western civilization deals with sanitation and waste. However, there are opportunities to recycle waste rather than just moving it away from people.

[13:15] The “sanitation value chain” explains the aspirational sanitation experience - capture, contain, transport, and repurpose.

[14:15] Wish for Wash is looking at the other end of the value chain. Rather than thinking of how to profit from waste, they are focusing on capture and containment.

[15:00] Their toilet design is modular, allowing for both sitting and squatting. They are also prototyping a manual bidet for communities who practice washing rather than wiping.

[17:25] Access to affordable manufacturing is the current barrier to entry, especially allowing them to make quick and frequent iterations.

[24:30] One of the biggest lessons learned in this venture is to practice patience.

[26:00] There’s a challenge in selling both a product and a behavioral change at the same time.

[27:15] They are exploring military applications, among other contexts for using the toilet.

[28:12] Jasmine speaks to her big goal this year for Wish for Wash.

[30:00] In the future, they would like to find a less invasive way to collect data, such as a mobile app.

[32:39] Supporting the cause can be as simple as having a conversation with Jasmine and her team.

[33:20] Charlie shares his final thoughts on the 3 ways he wants you to consider this episode.

Mentioned in This Episode:


Wish for Wash

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor

Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.