“The Vital FEW (Food, Energy, Water) are critical to our survival as a human race and much of the life that surrounds us. We need to innovate with environmental intelligence and use materials that have the potential to be upcycled at their end of life as a primary component to achieve sustainable methods of development, consumption, and reuse. Our portfolio is focused on market-based innovations in these most basic needs (Food, Water, Energy) of the humanity that not only provides resilient and affordable solutions but also have built-in utilization efficiencies.”
I founded Ecofiltro with the goal of reaching 1 million families with clean water in Guatemala by the year 2020 – a lofty goal that initially seemed like a tall order. I planned to do this in a transactional way, by selling a low-cost filter to the poor. However, it finally hit me that the rural poor are just like us: They want good-looking products. They want aspirational products that they can show off to their neighbors. So we launched a new low-cost aspirational model: They are modern-looking and colorful and we cannot keep them in inventory. In the last seven years, we have sold filters to over 250,000 rural families and over 150,000 urban homes. We are scaling, and as a social enterprise, Ecofiltro is not dependent on donors. We are profitable and constantly finding ways to accelerate our impact at the bottom of the pyramid.
Description and Compelling Attributes
Although humanity has always lived near sources of water for its survival, lack of clean-water is still the most widespread problem across the globe, and a contributing factor to 80% of diseases. Ecofiltro’s clean-water solution uses 50+ years-old known simple technology of ceramic water-filteration to provide a very affordable clean-water-solution with a business model that works in the most challenging geographies – very limited infrastructure and low household incomes (essentially BOP). Access to safe drinking water being one of the most basic human needs has received huge attention with dozens of NGOs and for-profit entities in active operations all over the world. However, they all suffer from one or more of the fundamental business model weaknesses and hence have failed to scale sufficiently which means more than 90% of the target BOP populations still lack an effective option.
Ecofiltro solution is very compelling because not only it overcomes inherent shortcomings of kiosk or charity-based models, it fits in all segments very nicely for several compelling reasons:
— very inexpensive input materials (clay, sawdust or rice-husk) that are available in abundance everywhere, no dependency on imports, No IP barriers, very simple production process to deploy and scale, proven water quality, handles all water sources (surface, lake, pond, river, tap, storage tank), lasts 3-4 years, a good flow-rate, well-suited for large households of 7-10 people (typical seen in Africa), and lastly a very affordable price-point that is nearly 10-times less drain on scarce wallets in BOP populations.
Given its abundantly available inputs, Ecofiltro production can be setup in a matter of weeks in every target town and country. With a manufacturing, production and distribution model that is easy to train and implement, and all at a cost and price that provides a unique combination of affordability and self-sustainability, it is an ideal solution to every single country in Africa, and populations in Asia, South and Central America. While, dozens of NGOs continues to play a vital role in addressing clean-and-affordable water need, Ecofiltro provides a most compelling solution that has the proven model for rapid countrywide scale.
Imagine a tomorrow where we are able to eliminate majority of water-borne diseases (which per WHO are responsible for 80% of the diseases), plastic pollution menace created by cheap-water-packaging (plastic sachets and bottles), and free-up big drain on wallets of the poorest communities, and all that with creating local jobs and economic growth. Ecofiltro makes that possible today! And make a real-dent in green-house-gas emissions (from burning of woods / charcoal to boil water) and saving of trees.
We invite ALL who wants to solve clean-water-crisis in entire continent of Africa, big parts of Asia and Americas to embrace and scale a solution now, and not wait for another decade. When there is a solution that does not need to depend upon donations or government support, and which is affordable to BOP segment, let us not waste another day.