Business Model

Without a business model, many facilities may only be able to function for a few months before becoming dirty, broken or unusable. Thinking through the business model beforehand helps to make sure that the facility has enough money to cover usual operational costs and can pay for any unexpected costs that may come up along the way.

The revenue side of the Sammaan model consisted of –

User fees collected on a pay-per-use basis

Grant funding from the municipalities

Shop rental revenue from shop spaces available at the enhanced layer facilities

We initially considered pursing advertising as a source of revenue, but many of our facilities were located in internal or low-foot traffic areas which are not ideal for advertisers.

The costs considered in the model were:

Staff salaries for the caretakers and attendants

Cleaning and stationary supplies

Electricity charges

Minor repairs and maintenance

In certain contexts, it may be possible for the community toilet to use electricity free of cost, or to have cleaning supplies provided by an external agency, in which case these could be removed as costs in the business model.

  • Selecting a user fee system

Charging of user fees was at the heart of the Sammaan business model. It’s hard to ensure that external funding will come on a timely basis. A facility needs reguarly and predictable cashflow to be able to keep running. With this in mind, we put a lot of thought into the user fee system to figure out what structure would work best.

After visiting existing community toilets and looking at the estimate operating costs for our sites, we decided to use a pay-per-use system. This type of system makes sure people pay before using the facility, so the increase in cost is immediately balanced by their payment. Though a pay monthly or pay weekly system is more common in many community toilet facilities, these systems usually aren’t able to collect enough revenue to run the facility at a high standard for very long. Unless the community is very small, it also becomes hard for the caretaker or managers to keep track of who has paid and who has not.

Prior to finalizing user fees, it’s always necessary to consult communities to obtain their feedback and consent. More details on this in the Community Engagement section.

  • Resources:

Pro and cons of different user fee systems

How to use a pricing model decide user fees

  • Costs & Revenue

During our monitoring activities, we collected detailed information on the actual costs of running facilities and revenue. Some key statistics from this data are provided below: information on the actual costs of running facilities and revenue. Some key statistics from this data are provided below:

Average expenditure per month per facility

INR 8,324

Average revenue per month per facility
(including users fees and shop rent)

INR 6324

Given that expenditure was higher than the user fee and shop rent revenue for most sites, the grant funding provided by the municipalities was a crucial source of money to ensure sustainability of operations.

Percentage of facilities that were profitable
without grant funding


Percentage of facilities profitable with
grant funding


The graph below shows the breakdown of expenditure across all sites. Staff salaries make up a large majority of facility costs – about 75%. Since caretakers had to be present at the facility throughout operating hours, and facilities were open for an average of 10 hours per day, it would make sense that their salary in particular would be a large portion of the cost.Given that Lower expenditure on repairs and maintenance is expected since these were new facilities, and major maintenance was contractually the responsibility of the municipalities.


  • Resources:

Detailed data on operational costs and revenue