What makes us unique?

What makes Impact Water most unique is its ability to deliver sustainable, safe drinking water solutions to thousands of institutions in developing countries by leveraging social impact capital to make these systems affordable. The value is only maximized to the business when systems remain functioning[1]. Preventive maintenance is built-in to each Impact Water sale and delivered every four to six months (depending on water quality) for the first two years of operations[i].

Impact Water’s social impact objectives are dynamically aligned with its business model. Benefits (socioeconomic, environmental and health) associated with safe water depend on its ongoing provision, and therefore sustained social impact is only achieved when systems remain operational. Greater system lifetime and utility equates to greater value for customers and increased demand for our systems and services.

For our customer, we deliver a high-value water purification system that they otherwise could not afford. We solve one of their key problems: access to reliable, large quantities of safe drinking water on a daily basis for their beneficiaries (students, patients, employees). Affordability is created via competitive pricing and low-cost financing with extended payback periods that are suitable for its customers.

To Impact Water’s knowledge,  this business is the first of its kind to customize payment terms for institutional safe water to the unique cash flow environments of developing country schools.

 

GAPS IN ACCESS TO CLEAN DRINKING WATER

There are billions of people around the world who have access to piped water or an improved source (such as a borehole or covered spring) but whose water is undeniably unsafe for human consumption[1].

Institutions, such as schools, throughout the developing world need to provide drinking water to hundreds of millions of beneficiaries per day but are often unaware of technologies that can be used to treat their water.

For institutions that are familiar with safe water technologies options, the system costs are out of reach for many. Limited suppliers sell on a cash basis and the upfront investment, typically USD $1,200 - $2,000, is often times considered too high.

The social impact potential of our business is far-reaching. Some examples include:

  • Improved dignity and health for millions of school children and health facility patients;
  •  Socio-economic advancements which result from reduced absenteeism at school;
  • Improved gender ratios when safe water is combined with improved sanitation services as menstruation management becomes easier for girls;
  • Financial savings (as boiling and buying bottled water is expensive);
  • Reduced biomass consumption and a corresponding decrease in indoor air pollution as these safe water systems will replace the need to boil water resulting in large carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter emission reductions; and
  • Job creation, particularly for the youth, as they become employed in selling and installing systems. 

The alignment of financial, social and environmental interests place Impact Water amongst a limited number of scalable, entrepreneurial initiatives which directly support global development priorities.

The following competencies demonstrate our unique edge:

Technology neutral – We can offer products that we determine to best fit our customer’s specific needs and that offers the right combination of performance, durability and value. This brings flexibility to the business as it adapts its product to the best-in-class technology of the time. At the same time, the product maintains its relevance in the given global, regional or country-level market. It also enhances the company’s ability to defend its value proposition in the medium and long-term, as new market entrants come online given that the company’s value is in the package of products and services and not simply one product or one service.

Demonstrated track record – Since Impact Water’s soft-launch in Uganda in October 2014, we have successfully sold and installed over 1200 school water purification systems. The business has national coverage and controls its value proposition by procuring all system components itself, sourcing from top global suppliers at volume discounts, and delivering all services via Impact Water employees (full, part-time and authorized technicians).  Growing brand recognition via above- and below-the-line marketing has established the Impact Water brand as trusted and reliable, coupled with strong operational performance (less than 2 days of down time per system per year). Impact Water has also effectively cultivated relationships with key government bodies including Ministries of Water and Environment, Ministries of Education and Ministries of Health (especially in Uganda, but also in Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya). This government engagement creates potential for public-private partnerships (PPPs) which can expand and accelerate the business’s growth over time, and help to reach the most disadvantaged schools. 

Leadership team – We are a dynamic team with high-energy, passionate leadership. We bring in a combination of diverse and relevant skills ranging from performance-based and innovative finance for clean energy development initiatives, to base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) product and project development, sales, marketing and distribution. We are committed to scalable business solutions, excellence and integrity, and enforce a zero tolerance policy toward fraud. We believe that social businesses have tremendous talent to unlock potential, make measurable impact, and become profitable, global leaders in their respective sectors.   

Financial Model – Impact Water has a perfect payment record to its investors and a strong balance sheet to support its growth targets. As a social business, we have proven our ability to efficiently absorb debt finance and translate that to increasing social impact. Our leadership team has significant experience with carbon asset development - having worked on over 15 carbon assets in more than 12 countries across the world. This experience positions the business to create additional revenue streams to further support its rapid growth, both in impact credit markets but also in results-based financing (RBF).

 

[i] The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD/Rio+20) in 2012, recognized “that water is at the core of sustainable development as it is closely linked to a number of key global challenges”, and reiterated “the importance of integrating water in sustainable development.”

Additionally, a framework for integrating water into the Sustainable Development Goals, as proposed by UN Water, designated “universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, improving water quality and raising service standards” as a means to achieving the following outcomes: “Healthy people, Increased prosperity, Equitable societies, Protected ecosystems, Resilient communities”.[i] 

 

Furthermore, UN Water proposes the following two indicators in support of achieving ‘universal access to basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for households, schools and health facilities’: percentage of health facilities with basic drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene; percentage of primary and secondary schools that have basic drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene. This further underscores the relevance of safe water in schools and health facilities as a primary foundation for the post-2015 development priorities.  Desired outcomes /country actions as designated by UN Water also include: governments adopt ambitious targets for improving WASH service levels in order to reduce global burden of WASH related diseases, to improve productivity and economic growth and to reduce inequalities between population groups; governments adopt ambitious targets in order to reduce global burden of disease from diarrhea and other WASH related diseases, improve child and maternal health, improve nutrition, improve (girls) education outcomes and reduce (gender) inequalities. This suggests that developing country governments in the post-MDG period will be increasingly aware of the socio-economic and public health benefits of increased WASH-related investments.

 

[1] Safe water initiatives are notorious for failing after one to two years. This is often due to technology failure; lack of maintenance, repair services and capacity; community buy-in and/or challenges with behavioral change and social norms.  Impact Water’s ability to keep systems functional beyond this two-year period and combined with its scale of operations, will significantly distinguish it from other safe water initiatives. This will create critical momentum for its growth and strengthen its value proposition and competitive position. Also, follow-on maintenance plans sold to schools will provide additional revenue and help ensure that when a new system is purchased, the customer will buy from Impact Water. It also keeps the customer relationship ongoing which will serve to bundle future products and services to the same customer groups.

 

[i] After which point institutions are offered an opportunity to pay for maintenance either on single-service basis or as a follow-on two-year preventive maintenance contract (which is delivered at close-to-cost prices and in some cases may be subsidized via impact credit revenues).