DRINKWELL USES AN INNOVATIVE MICRO-FINANCE MODEL TO PURIFY CONTAMINATED GROUNDWATER INTO CLEAN DRINKING WATER
What big bet are they making?
Drinkwell is transforming the world’s water crisis into entrepreneurial opportunities by using a microfranchise model to provide clean drinking water in areas with contaminated groundwater. Drinkwell transforms existing arsenic and fluoride-affected tube wells by leveraging a resin technology that purifies water through removal of arsenic, fluoride, iron and bacteria. Subsequently, Drinkwell ensures water quality through routine testing and takes care of all maintenance, while decentralizing day-today operation and branding to entrepreneurs/NGOs. Their network of entrepreneurs/NGOs generates income by selling purified drinking water in their local communities. The technology behind Drinkwell is well-tested and supplies nearly 200,000 villagers with safe water in South Asia.
What challenge is the big bet solving?
Ensuring safe drinking water is a major problem in India. Use of deep tube wells for water supply ensures access to water but exposes users to arsenic and/or fluriode poisoning. Arsenic – a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring metal – is found in dangerously high amounts within the groundwater in South Asia. Exposure to fluoride can result in fluorosis, a disease that result in mottling of teeth, stunted childhood development, and weak joints and bones. Exposure to arsenic can have health consequences, including arsenicosis, an incurable cancer-causing disease. WHO reports that the arsenic water crisis, affecting over 200 million people across 70 countries, is the largest mass poisoning in human history.
How is the Big Bet innovative?
Drinkwell provides a profitable business model for entrepreneurs to supply safe drinking water by providing them advanced cleaning technology. Their patented technology is more cost- and resource effective than best practice reverse osmosis methods. At the same time, it produces less waste. Drinkwell enables NGO’s to capitalize on their social capital by providing safe drinking water that both improves health outcomes and generates sustainable revenue streams to finance other activities, such as provision of free sanitation. The next step is to improve identification of potential sites by creating a heat map showing arsenic levels, population density, and political interest.
What is the current situation?
Drinkwell’s team supports 71 entrepreneurs delivering safe water to over 41,000 individuals across India and Bangladesh. (~$1.5 million) in arsenic and fluoride tenders, including the largest arsenic/iron piped water system in the world at 190,000 m3/hr in West Bengal. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has opted to implement Drinkwell’s technology that recovers 99% of input water over reverse osmosis systems that waste 50% of input water. Drinkwell is looking to expand further in India and Bangladesh.