How do you take economical technology into very rural communities in India in order to solve crushing water shortage problems that cause debilitating waterborne diseases? Create water entrepreneurs, of course! That’s the aim of Sarvajal, a social enterprise started by Anand Shah, a project of Pirmal Foundation.
How Sarvajal is Solving Water Quality and Shortage Challenges in India
40 million people in India suffer from waterborne diseases annually, costing the country 73 million working days and $600 million in the process. Solving water quality and shortage problems is an absolute necessity if the country is to find a way out of dire poverty.
Sarvajal is working on these issues by creating water entrepreneurs who sell clean water locally to about 175 households daily, per franchise. Unlike charity-run water filtration projects which usually sell water at cost and eventually become neglected due to the fact that there is no one there to run it, Sarvajal projects are owned by franchisees who want the project to succeed and remain profitable. These franchisees earn a quality income and assist their community in solving their local water challenges.
Just like a cash ATM, the Sarvajal “water ATMs” offer residents living in close proximity to the machines a clean, affordable source of water, 24/7. The following is the Sarvajal franchise business model:
- Franchisees know their communities: Franchisees hire an operator who operates the machine and sells water to consumers.
- Sarvajal knows the business and the machines: Sarvajal creates water entrepreneurs by training Franchisees in standard business practices and filtration unit maintenance and repairs. They also help generate community awareness.
- Common incentives unite the two: Both Franchisees and Sarvajal earnings depend on how much drinking water is sold to households who need it, which incentivizes both groups to provide pure water and excellent service in order to strengthen the Sarvajal brand across India.
The goal is to create a sustainable, scalable business that benefits the community and naturally spreads throughout the country to ensure affordable clean water for all. They further support the efforts by using cutting edge technologies for tracking water production and quality in real-time, controlling filtration operations remotely, and identifying and diagnosing potential maintenance issues before they arise. To learn more about franchising, check out the article on Micro-Franchising: How Business-in-a-Box Can Change Development.
About this Entrepreneur for a Change
Anand Shah is the CEO of Sarvajal. He and four other social entrepreneurs launched the enterprise in 2008 to provide clean drinking water to rural Indian villages and significantly improve rural health.
Anand is also the CEO of Piramal Foundation, which is an innovative initiative for developing the social infrastructure to enable India’s youth to actively solve their nation’s challenges. He is also a board member for Indicorps, a non-profit organization that helps Indians worldwide solve problems in India, and is involved in the Vedanta University project which has received a $1 billion grant from an Indian businessman.
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