Access to safe, sanitary water is a vital concern to people around the world. While most people in the western world take healthy water for granted, the reality is over 750 million people around the globe don’t have access to safe water and each year it is estimated that 3 million people die as a direct result of contaminated water or causes related to the lack of access to healthy water or proper sanitation.
Yesterday we were privileged to welcome Water.org Co-Founder and CEO Gary White along with Strategic Alliances Manager Nicole Wickenhauser to speak at the C2FO office. Water.org is a global group based out of Kansas City working to provide safe water and sanitation solutions to individuals and communities throughout the developing world. Over the last twenty years the group has helped develop and maintain wells around the world, aided impoverished communities in improving sanitation, and helped increase the number of people who have access to safe, healthy water through utilities.
One of the reasons we at C2FO find Water.org so intriguing is the innovative approach they have taken to solving a huge global problem. In learning about the challenges preventing people in poverty from accessing water, the group realized that many families around the world could not afford the connection fee it would take to hook up to existing plumbing services. The inability to pay for this service introduced huge inefficiencies into communities, as families were either forced to pay an exorbitant price to get water each day or they would spend hours (up to six or more a day) walking to and from their water source.
One of Water.org’s innovative programs is to utilize existing systems to provide a solution for the problem. Specifically, they work with existing entities (mainly local microfinance institutions) to provide affordable loans to families so they can access safe and healthy running water. By providing affordable loans to these people Water.org has helped improve the lives of millions and millions of people around the world. Water.org recognized an existing system that could be repurposed to make an amazing impact, and the results have been phenomenal.
But the benefits of this approach are much more far-reaching than the most basic benefit of giving people safe water. Water delivered through these utilities is much, much more cost efficient than the alternatives, so the most impoverished families in the world are now spending less on the most basic of resources and have the opportunity to begin improving their lives in other ways. Instead of sending children to walk for hours to bring back a day’s supply of water families can now send their children to schools or focus more time on building a better life. By introducing efficiency and providing a basic necessity Water.org has given millions of people the chance to focus on other responsibilities and start making a better world.
C2FO is always looking for innovators and trailblazers working to make the world a better place. The core principle behind the C2FO market is that efficient access to working capital is vital to the survival of businesses; much like access to safe, sanitized water is vital to the survival of communities around the world. We believe that by increasing efficiency more opportunity will be created, and it was an honor to hear from the man behind a group that is making the world a better place every day and creating opportunity for people to improve their lives and communities.