‘Delivering Clean Water Sustainably to the BOP in Guatemala’
Friday 1 November 2013, Mawby Room, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Speakers: Philip Wilson
Drinks served from 3.30 pm
Our organization produces ceramic pot filters used to purify contaminated drinking water called Ecofiltro. This technology, invented in 1981 in Guatemala, is an effective, economic and ecological alternative to water purification. It is currently being produced in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and USAID/ CDC list this technology as a proven method to purify water in developing countries. With its controlled pore size, the Ecofiltro allows water to pass, but traps bacteria, parasitic cysts and fecal residues. The Ecofiltro eliminates smell and color, and keeps the water refreshingly cool. Just as important, the Ecofiltro is culturally acceptable to all groups and extremely portable.
The Ecofiltro was previously sold to large NGOs who then distributed the filters in rural areas. Although we appreciated the relationship with the NGOs, this distribution model does not fulfill the mission of the organization or meet the needs of the people of Guatemala. The distribution method had two failures. Firstly, it lacked the reach needed to solve the problem – aggregate donor-driven budgets allocated to this type of project amounted to 15,000 – 20,000 filters annually, not enough scope to address the needs of 6 million people. Secondly, it lacked sustainability in that nearly all households receiving the filters saw it as a gift and expected the same NGO to provide a replacement filter after the two year life and few – really none – of the NGOs had a lifetime filter program in their budget.
To reach more families and provide a sustainable lifetime approach to safe water, we are now bringing the filters directly to communities and offering the filters through an affordable monthly payment plan. We empower families through ownership without the initial acquisition cost while maintaining a strong connection to the community through post-delivery education and training. We feel that turning rural families from beneficiaries to clients is the best way to provide clean water for life in the household.
Philip Wilson was born in Guatemala and studied at the Wharton School of Business in the United States. He has successfully led businesses in both countries and firmly believes that the world’s most pressing problems can be solved by applying business practices to social needs. After he turned 40 he decided to dedicate all his time to helping bring clean water sustainably to 1 Million families in rural Guatemala. He was named the "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" for Central America in 2012 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in Davos, Switzerland. See www.ecofiltro.com for more information.