SUMMARY: Drinkwell blends novel water filtration technology that disrupts current best practice reverse osmosis with a micro-franchise business model to transform existing arsenic and/or fluoride-affected tubewells into clean water systems that generate jobs, clean water, and improve health outcomes across the developing world.
PROBLEM SPACE: 200 million people across India and Bangladesh are at-risk of arsenic and fluoride poisoning in what the World Health Organization calls the largest mass poisoning in human history. Studies from Yale and Columbia find 1 in 5 deaths occurring due to arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh resulting in 230,000 annual deaths. The crisis impacts the economy as studies found affected-households losing 20% of income due to arsenic. UNICEF anticipates a $13.1 billion loss in GDP due to the arsenic crisis over the next 20 years. In India, 40 million rural Indians are affected each year by preventable diseases caused by inadequate water supply, and 20 million children suffer from stunted growth due to exposure to unsafe drinking water that leads to skeletal fluorosis. This leads to an estimated 73 million working days lost annually due to waterborne diseases, erasing $600 million in economic value. Current solutions fail due to a lack of job creation, paying customers, and locally-maintainable technology that leads 60% of all water systems to fail within the first two years of operation. Many of these deployments use reverse osmosis, an energy-intensive solution that requires electricity and creates 60% of toxic reject water thereby further polluting the environment.
SOLUTION: Drinkwell provides clean water through a “Select, Build, Sell, Collect” model. In the Select stage, a Drinkwell Committee comprised of local government officials, NGOs, business partners, and school and religious officials is formed. The Committee selects an entrepreneur who owns a contaminated tubewell. In the Build stage, an $8,000 system that, compared to reverse osmosis, delivers 60x more water, is 16x more energy efficient and reduces waste by 7 orders of magnitude, is built using local manufacturers. The franchisee also hires 2 drivers and 1 caretaker to run the plant. Franchisees then Sell clean drinking water for $3 a month and earn 40% of monthly gross profits. Households can purchase a “Drinkwell Card” in local shops that have 30 punch holes for redeeming 20L jugs of water daily. Each system can, at a minimum, serve 600 households on a daily basis (capacity can be easily increased). Finally, Drinkwell “collects” customer data through Drinkwell water card and liter output data through a hard-wired meter to guard against false reporting. This output data fuels customer growth. Alternative revenue streams include licensing deals with government contractors and other established water filtration firms to catalyze the reach of our life-changing technology.
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