What is The Pooptank?
(The Story So Far...)
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The Pooptank is an online sanitation gameshow and accelerator which supports sanitation innovators. It is an initiative of the Sanitation Innovation Fund, a US-based non-profit organisation. The Sanitation Innovation Fund (SIF) was created to address the global sanitation crisis by rewarding early-stage innovators with grant funding and technical assistance which is inclusive, agile, non-bureaucratic and FUN! The SIF delivers its support directly to local changemakers through tailoured innovation challenges which focus on a theme.
The 1st innovation challenge, launched in May 2022 is The Lake Victoria Pooptank, with the theme of protecting water quality in Lake Victoria. Click here to read more about Lake Victoria's troubled waters.
The Pooptank Cycle
The Pooptank cycle (shown in the image below) defines the period of funding and technical support. The Lake Victoria Pooptank was designed to provide two rounds of grant financing, 4 months apart, over an 8-month cycle, with three Pooptank shows; July 2022; November 2022; and March 2023. Each Pooptank show has the innovators pitching their innovation and updating on their progress and lessons learned.
The Call for Proposals
The first Pooptank in 2022/23 was designed for Lake Victoria, specifically for its three riparian nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The Lake Victoria Pooptank Call for Innovators was launched in May 2022 using an instructional video and a flyer which were circulated using existing social media accounts (LinkedIN and Facebook) and Whatsapp groups. Potential applicants were directed to a 3-page FAQ sheet with information for Innovators.
For information for Innovators,
Reviewing the Pooptank pitches
The call was successful and attracted a total of 20 innovator applications, including 10 from Uganda, 7 from Kenya, and 3 from Tanzania.
16 of these applicants were shortlisted and invited to submit a 3-minute 'Pooptank pitch' video.
ALL Pooptank pitches
ALL Pooptank pitches
ALL Pooptank pitches
Live-streaming The Pooptank (Showtime!)
Three finalists were selected to represent each of Lake Victoria’s three riparian nations of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Their 'Pooptank Pitch' video was shown during The Pooptank on the 19th of July 2022. All innovators then faced a 10 minute Q&A round from an expert panel. At the end of The Pooptank, all three innovators were awarded prize money according to four votes; three from the panelists and one vote from the audience.
The results of the first Pooptank were:
GOLD MEDAL WINNER: Carolyne Odero from Kenya, prize $3000.
SILVER MEDAL WINNER: Juliet Mukunde from Uganda, prize $2000.
BRONZE MEDAL WINNER: Saul Mwandosya from Tanzania, prize $1000.
A total of 130 participants pre-registered for The Pooptank. The livestream was attended by an audience of 50.
The Pivot: From competition to collaboration.
The Lake Victoria Pooptank was designed to provide two rounds of grant financing, 4 months apart, over an 8-month cycle. The original grant design required the innovators to compete for GOLD, SILVER, and BRONZE at each Pooptank, with the second round of financing doubling the money on offer ($6000US for Gold; $4000US for Silver; and $2000US for Bronze).
However, after discussions with the three innovators on the vision of Lakewide Inclusive Sanitation, the competition element used for the first Pooptank was considered less relevant for the second Pooptank, because all innovators were striving towards the same general objective, and because all innovators saw the greater benefits of collaboration. Therefore, it was agreed that the second funding round would search for the same amount of grant financing of $5,000USD for all three innovators and that all three innovators would support each other, sharing resources, experiences, and lessons learned.
Competition amongst innovators, spiced things up, and gave excitement to the Pooptank launch.
However, competition soon gave way to collaboration, which is more important to achieve the vision of Lakewide Inclusive Sanitation.
Establishing the mentoring relationship.
Having successfully live-streamed the Pooptank and sent the innovators their prize money, the next step was to connect them to the Pooptank mentors network. Collective mentor meetings were set up in order for the innovators to pitch their innovation once again, this time with the objective of establishing the most relevant mentoring relationship which would provide technical support to the innovators over the duration of the Pooptank cycle (until March 2023).
The 2nd Pooptank show was broadcast live on Friday the 18th November at 1600hrs East Africa Time (EAT).
The show was a hybrid, with a pre-recorded middle section comprising the innovator's presentations and panelists questions. Notwithstanding the usual problems relating to limited internet bandwidth and zoom meeting registration, the 2nd Pooptank show was a success and provided a solid baseline of information which could be used to galvanise more support for the initiative and search for more funding for the innovators.