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WaterWalla is a forward-thinking, not-for-profit organization that seeks to support community-driven solutions to India’s growing urban water crisis. Conceived in April 2010 by five college students in Rhode Island, WaterWalla is now fully functional in India, its primary market.
Roughly 100 million people live in urban slums in India, the majority of which struggle to access clean and consistent supplies of water. WaterWalla believes that the urban poor in India have an active role to play in solving their own water challenges. Many community members are natural innovators who adapt to the urban challenges daily. By collaborating with communities to isolate challenges and understand current adaptations, WaterWalla is uniquely positioned to support inclusive and innovative business models that meet the unique water needs of the urban poor in India. Our internal Research and Development Lab acts as an incubator where innovations take flight and evolve into sustainable social businesses.
The most advanced project in the Research and Innovation Lab is the development of an inclusive business model to deliver affordable water filtration products to slum communities in India. WaterWalla innovates to connect key players in the water space. Specifically, we work with manufacturers of filtration devices to secure reduced price points on water products. Next, we collaborate with community-based organizations to develop water education programs that are specific to slum needs. Then we establish locally-staffed points of sale throughout slums, where products and water-related education are dispensed.
WaterWalla is currently piloting different point of sale models (e.g., company-owned store, authorized retailer, mobile kiosk) to identify the optimal distribution channel for its purification products and education. It is also developing tools to inform the growth of its points of sale. For example, our CRM+ (in development) will allow us to track our double bottom line; and our community assessment tool (CAT) will allow us classify and differentiate slum communities, thereby helping to inform market entry and predictors of success.
Once an optimal distribution and education strategy is identified, WaterWalla may consider a for-profit spin off to allow for the infusion of impact investment. This could accelerate the kind of scale required for WaterWalla’s distribution initiative to be self-sustainable.