What are the first things you tend to do when you wake up in the morning? Chances are washing your face, using the bathroom, and drinking a glass of water are all on that list.
Access to clean water and sanitation are basic human rights, but according to the UN the reality is that 1 in 3 people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water, 2 out of 5 don’t have access to handwashing facilities, and 673 million people don’t have access to safe and clean toilets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for equitable access to Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) solutions even more urgent: clean water and sanitation are critical to preventing and containing diseases.
The reasons for these inequities are complex and systemic, and ensuring equal access at scale will take serious innovation and collaboration. But as we see over and over, despite these obstacles, it’s social entrepreneurs who are on the front lines deploying solutions that meaningfully move the needle on SDG 6: Ensuring Access to Water and Sanitation for All.
Below are 14 inspiring social enterprises from the MovingWorlds S-GRID community, and beyond, on the front lines of realizing that vision, both individually and in partnership with other ecosystem actors. Continue reading to learn more about their work and how you can support them:
PurePaani Portable Filters
PurePaani is an India-based social enterprise on a mission to make clean drinking water available to all. 163 million people in India lack access to safe water as 70% of groundwater is contaminated due to sewage and industrial pollutants. PurePaani offers a variety of portable purification products, including a hand-pump (pictured below), battery pump, or water tablet. PurePaani also offers consulting services to help manage and sustain the whole cycle of a water intervention project.
WASHKing is a Ghanaian social enterprise providing low-income and underserved communities with access to sustainable sanitation products at an affordable price. WASHKing produces, supplies and installs environmentally friendly biodigester toilets made out of eco-friendly materials for low-income urban households and institutions to improve health and economic conditions on the continent. WASHKing’s technology treats waste on-site and does not require piping the waste off-site for treatment. The treated waste serves as manure and water for agricultural use, creating additional value for customers and for the environment. Its flexible payment terms, training on hygiene and after-sale services ensure that customers can get the maximum benefit from improved sanitation solutions.
In Central America, more than 85% of people don’t have access to safe drinking water, and contaminated water is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 5. Most of these deaths are preventable, and EOS International is a social enterprise on a mission to make safe drinking water accessible throughout the region. EOS’ water purification technology is a low-cost, low-maintenance solution that attaches to any rural community’s water tank and inactivates pathogens in water systems by releasing a controlled dosage of chlorine. One system can provide clean water for up to 1,000 community members and requires no energy to use. EOS ensures successful, sustainable impact by also educating beneficiaries on how to use, maintain, and repair their technologies, and offers on-site support as needed. [Editor’s note: Inspired by their mission and want to get involved? Check out this project with EOS International for a Marketing & Branding expert on the MovingWorlds platform.]
Desolenator is a social enterprise providing an off-grid, affordable, solar-powered water purification solution to customers at the base of the pyramid. Desolenator’s innovative technology is future-proofing businesses and communities by using 100% solar power to purify any water source – including seawater, brackish and heavy-metal contaminated – into potable water, without consumables like filters or membranes. In remote locations with complex contamination, Desolenator creates the highest quality water at scale, without the price tag. We recently shared insights from Desolenator’s Business Development Manager, Louise Bleach, about pivoting to this successful business model on our blog. Desolenator has also developed a number of successful corporate partnerships to help the solution scale, including one with beer producer Carlsberg to support its commitment to halve its water usage in its breweries by 2030.
Ecoloo Group is a social enterprise on a mission to eliminate poverty through access to sustainable toilets for all. The Ecoloo toilet is eco-friendly, odor-free, water-free, sewage-free, and energy-free. Ecoloo employs a special formulated bacterial culture to treat and dispose of human waste, while transforming the viable parts into natural liquid fertilizer, and its range of offerings include both indoor and outdoor toilets for private and commercial use. Recently, Ecoloo Group was featured in Acumen’s Corporate Ready report as an example of a corporate-ready social enterprise with a scalable, impactful solution ready for potential partners.
Sistema.bio is a social enterprise with a prefabricated modular biodigester package that includes a full suite of biogas appliances and connections. Easy to install and use, its patented high-efficiency biodigesters take organic waste and transform it into renewable biogas and a powerful organic fertilizer. These solutions help smallholder farmers worldwide to meet domestic energy and biofertilizer needs, generating savings and increasing yields and incomes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Proyecto Agua Segura
Proyecto Agua Segura is a social enterprise from Argentina on a mission to achieve safe water for everybody. Proyecto Agua Segura partners with large corporations that face the challenges of water for their businesses , their communities of influence, and the environment in which they operate. Proyecto Agua Segura develops, manages and implements water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and environmental water projects that generate a positive impact on the business, on the efficiency of the resource, and on the communities. For example, Proyecto Agua Segura has partnered with Coca Cola since 2018 to support its goal of replacing 100% of the water it uses to produce its beverages back into nature while improving access to clean water in the rural communities it operates in.
Nazava Water Filters
Nazava is a social enterprise that provides high quality, affordable water filters that empower households with a free-flow of safe drinking water at the point of use. Using gravity as its main energy source, Nazava replaces the need for boiling water on wood or LPG, resulting in purified water that is 3x cheaper than boiling and 9x cheaper than buying water from refill-kiosks. [Editor’s note: Inspired by their mission and want to get involved? Check out this project with Nazava Water Filters for a Digital Marketing expert on the MovingWorlds platform.]
Sanivation is a Kenya-based social enterprise that partners with local governments to deliver clean, safe, and efficient sanitation services to urbanizing communities in low-income countries. It does this by converting waste to industrial fuel as a sustainable option for boilers and kilns. Sanivation employs a systematic approach with its partners to design, build, and train local staff on how to manage non-sewered sanitation services that meet the environmental and cultural needs of specific locations. Sanivation also provides support on city-wide inclusive sanitation planning, health and safety protocols, and reuse business model development.
Hydrologic (aka Tunsai Water)
Hydrologic is a social enterprise that manufactures, distributes and sells ceramic water filters across Cambodia. About 72% of rural households treat their drinking water by boiling it, which can be inconsistent and requires energy, typically in the form of charcoal or wood (both of which result in greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.) Hydrologic saves about 130,000 tons of CO2 every year by shifting customers away from using wood or charcoal and instead towards a more sustainable water filtration method.
Folia Water is on a mission to make filters for pennies that make water accessible for billions. The Folia Water Filter is an antimicrobial filter paper containing silver nanoparticles that kill bacteria and viruses while filtering out dirt and larger parasites. One filter provides 20L of safe, germ-free water, with no heat required, no pump required, and no electricity required.
The DrinkWell team believes the global water crisis is a problem equally rooted in technology and service delivery. Drinkwell is a technology platform for clean water that is embedded within water infrastructure, purifying millions of liters of water every month, worldwide. This systems-based solution equally prioritizes cost-effective, robust and environmentally-friendly treatment technology with simple, reliable, and convenient service delivery. Because DrinkWell provides end-to-end solutions inclusive of water treatment, asset maintenance, payments, and testing in a unified platform, organizations are able to quickly deploy water infrastructure without the headache of managing multiple vendors.
Almost half the global population lacks access to safe sanitation. Loowatt’s unique toilet system integrates revolutionary waterless flush technology with 360-degree waste processing to deliver hygienic and safe toilets for domestic and commercial applications. The toilet itself is very similar to a normal, high quality, household flush toilet, however: A liner sitting inside the toilet bowl safely and hygienically captures human waste, which is sealed and pulled through to a barrel below with each flush. This seals away germs and odors, leaving a clean bowl every time. Once full, barrels are replaced. Waste can then be processed in a range of systems, from small decentralized digesters or larger, utility-run treatment sites. It can be converted to biogas to generate electricity, cooking gas, or organic fertiliser.
Bhumijo is a social enterprise that ensures access to hygienic public sanitation for all in Bangladesh. Bhumijo specially cares for women, children, and differently abled people. Its focus on business sustainability ensures that urban poor will continue to receive sanitation services without disruption. Bhumijo works in partnership with the local government in providing this essential public service, and also partners with private land / building owners to deliver public toilet service. The team at Bhumijo believes that the job of providing clean toilet service should be dignified and valued, and it hopes to end the public toilet crisis all over Bangladesh by 2030.
Does your organization have an innovative social or environmental solution that you are trying to scale? Apply to SGRID for help building connections to corporations looking to find partners for their supply chains.