Nowadays, water security is not just an interest of environmentalists. This threat has successfully crossed over into the business realm, affecting the strategies and objectives for both corporations and savvy impact entrepreneurs.
And after all, considering that close to 80% of the global population is now inhabited in high-level threat areas to water sustainability, industries must mitigate these challenges to reduce barriers to entry, increase efficient competition, and create healthy and robust economies in these regions. The greatest efforts have been from single entrepreneurs, and these are just a few of the many inspiring efforts that can be found from many across the globe.
Access to Water
The first case we find is that of Renaud de Watteville, a Swiss entrepreneur who founded both a private company (Swiss Fresh Water) and a non-profit organization (Access to Water Foundation) that focus on the deployment of high standard water solutions in his home country and in developing nations alike.
In order to attract investments, Watteville was required to split his company ventures into two separate entities, which have separate business models. Specifically for the Access to Water Foundation, they offer the purchasing of initial equipment where local entrepreneurs take charge of distribution upon a pre-paid 20,000 liters. They then sell the purified water in such villages, for much less than comparable bottled water, and the proceeds are split accordingly, with 50% of sales going towards kiosk owners for salary distribution, and the other 50% towards maintenance and repairs, with the remainder to purchase new machines.
By entering WIPO Green (World Intellectual Property Organization), Access to Water quite literally has access to a communication network of purchasers and distributors across the globe that share the same sustainable vision as that of the company.
By directly providing access to labor in the local villages, Access to Water has contributed to more than 480 sustainable jobs that have distributed water to more than 280,000 people. Intangible assets arising from these missions include greater time for child education (instead of collecting water), greater urban development, and diversification of the economy, all from something as seemingly insignificant as safe drinking water.
On the other side of the world, we come to Isla Urbana, a Mexican non-profit organization founded by Carlos Moscoso that approaches water conservation in a multi-faceted mission statement. Their first and most important responsibility is to provide fresh water for the tens of millions of citizens that do not have access to water services. They approach this problem in a unique geographical viewpoint.
Specifically, in Mexico City, flooding episodes are both common and highly severe, with up to 30 inches of rain in a given year. In response to this concern, Moscoso developed proprietary rainwater harvesting systems capable of collecting these enormous floodwaters and purifying any contaminants to produce safe, drinkable water for use. Besides solving the issue of water access, this operations solves two other important crises: flooding and land sinkage.
By collecting a considerable amount of water rather than having it distributed across the streets, flooding damages are severely reduced in the city. It also decreases the demand for water using the alternative method, which involves pumping water through aquifers directly underneath the city, that of which has directly contributed to a sinkage of 10 meters for the entire city in the past century.
Cardozo, as part of his entrepreneurial venture, plans his business model around expanding the technology not only for residential use but for commercial applications in relevant regions as well. The systems become self-sustainable through the distribution of educational courses on both the setup and maintenance of the machine and have averaged a return of investment in only 2 years across all their projects.
By providing a technology useful to both homes and corporations, Moscoso has created a business that has transformed into the leading vision for sustainability in Mexico.
Different regions throughout the world, as shown, are going to demand unique solutions from entrepreneurs. Every effort, however, is another step towards reaching a sustainable system where the most basic of human needs can be accessed by anyone and everyone in need.
Businesses are expanding their social horizons as being the medium to facilitate such change and organizations such as the Access to Water foundation and Isla Urbana are simply the tip of the iceberg. Creating sustainable organizations, as well as environments is a benefit for all. The sooner that everyone can adopt such a way of thinking, we will be one step closer in the right direction.
We are proud to announce that Isla Urbana has a vibrant and active chapter across universities around the United States, one of them being here at the University of Pennsylvania! For further information, reach out to Isla Urbana at Penn on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IslaUrbanaPenn/