I’m Desperate Dan

Posted: 28 March 2011, in Blog

I’m desperate Dan.

British scatological humour is different and occasionally very funny – especially if you have youngsters in the room. From Chaucer and Shakespeare to the Carry On films we seem to enjoy the joke and the taboo nature of it. Looks like we are going to be grinning maniacally for the foreseeable future as our public loos look set to disappear.

When invited to give a presentation, Mel Young likes to talk about some of his Davos pals. The one I like to hear about is Isaac Durojaiye – his social enterprise brings sanitation services to Africans, creates jobs for the dispossessed and improves public health. He does this by franchising mobile toilets which he manufactures and he is now into waste management and biogas supply. He motivates the franchisees through profit share schemes. See:


I wonder if there is now an opportunity for British social entrepreneurs to do something similar. We all know why we need public loos. We instinctively recoil from bad loos and local authority provision (with some honourable and architecturally glorious exceptions) lacks investment and is generally ghastly and/or unsafe.

So, if you want to provide jobs, protect the environment or supply green energy, how about emulating Isaac?

If cities are going to have no public loos and businesses will prevent non customers from “using the facilities” how about doing a deal with local authorities. Offer to buy sites for “a penny” (geddit) and provide a quality service. Profit sharing franchisees will manage them, charge a sensible price, add value by providing a cross subsidising retail outlet and keep the place spic and span. I’d invite Frank Gehry (or similar) on a pro bono basis to design some attractive modern loos and open source the rights.

Other targets would be the train companies – no one enjoys their loos. It is frankly uncivilised that so many of us seem to suffer the joys of holding on till we find a sanctuary!

Here are the campaign messages from the British Toilet Association you need to sell:

  • Better environments in towns and cities
  • Reduced health risks due to provision of hygienic facilities
  • Highly accessible facilities that meet everyone’s needs – male, female, children, babies, the elderly and disabled folk.
  • Cities and communities would suffer less vandalism, have pleasant public environments and improve their reputations for “community”, doing business and tourism.
  • The British invented the flushing toilet. In the 21st century it is inexcusable and ought to be illegal to leave people with no public provision.

Remember, where there’s muck there’s brass. If someone doesn’t do something soon you had better buy some wellies – local authorities seem to have given up.


NOTE: This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition.