Reckitt Awards N37.8 Million to Six Nigerian Social Entrepreneurs

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Reckitt, a British multinational hygiene, health, and nutrition company, has awarded N37.8 million to six Nigerian social entrepreneurs through its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Accelerator program.

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These entrepreneurs were selected from over 200 applicants and each received N6.3 million to expand their WASH innovations during an event marking Reckitt’s 60th year in Nigeria.

The five-month WASH Accelerator program aims to empower grassroots innovators to improve access to WASH in Nigeria. The six winning enterprises are Onyesi Care Foundation, Alora Reusable Pads, ToiletPride, SoSo Care, and Kiddies and Brands.

With 73.5 percent of Nigeria’s population lacking access to improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities, more than 70,000 children under five die yearly from water-borne diseases, including diarrhea, according to UNICEF. This issue is particularly severe in rural areas, where 64.1 percent lack improved services.

While the government is responsible for providing equitable access to WASH services, private entities like Reckitt are collaborating to address these challenges through social impact programs. For instance, SoSo Care runs a unique medical insurance system using recyclable plastics as premiums, allowing beneficiaries to pay for malaria treatments with proceeds from collected plastic waste.

Kris Licht, Reckitt’s international CEO, acknowledged Nigeria’s macroeconomic and fiscal challenges but reiterated the company’s commitment to resilience and social impact. Licht emphasized Reckitt’s dedication to scaling its social impact program alongside expanding its business investments in production capacity.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor, lauded Reckitt’s investments in WASH goals and healthy lifestyles, expressing his government’s willingness to collaborate further. He announced a plan to build 150 public toilets across the state to promote responsible waste disposal and reduce open defecation.

In 2021, Reckitt’s Dettol brand invested in the ‘Hygiene Quest’ school behavior change program as part of its WASH goals to reduce disease burden. The program, launched in Italy, Nigeria, and the UK, observed increased hand washing and better hygiene practices among children, leading to a reduction in illness and more school days attended.

Hamza Sarwar, Reckitt’s Global Social Impact and Partnership director, emphasized that access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation is a fundamental human right essential for societal well-being. He highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships in achieving these goals, noting that significant investment is required to close the financial gap in WASH services.

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