Plumbing manufacturers should look at a new market: the poor, said Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization.

Plumbing manufacturers should look at a new market: the poor, said Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization. Sim addressed members of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute March 16 during their spring meeting in San Diego.

“The poor is the new customer,” he said. “There are 2.5 billion toilet-less people in the world. Understand the needs of the poor customer.”

During his presentation, “Seeing Sanitation as a New Opportunity,” Sim discussed a pyramid that had wealthier nations at the top and underdeveloped nations in Asia and Africa at the bottom. The bottom of the market potentially represents $1 trillion in business, he said.

“The top of the pyramid has gotten smaller because housing starts are down,” Sim said. “The poverty market is very vibrant. You can make money while improving people’s lives.” The 2.5 billion people without proper sanitation represent more than 40 percent of the world’s population, he said. Diarrhea kills someone every 15 seconds; most of these are children younger than 5 years old. High-intensity intestinal worms infect 133 million people.

Sim’s WTO wants to raise awareness of the need for proper sanitation because too many people around the world do not talk about toilets due to embarrassment or shame, he said. Among the WTO’s goals are for interested parties, including manufacturers, to work together to address the problem of improper sanitation. The group also wants to bundle integrated solutions that would include lower-cost products, financing, training, installation and maintenance.

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