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Wello WaterWheel: A Social Enterprise That’s Easing the Burden of Water Carrying Women Worldwide

wello water wheel social enterprise

Social entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs are changing the world by helping to empower other women and lessening their burden of fetching water for their family. Carrying water, often for long distances, is a burden shared by women in developing countries around the world. It involves hours of walking, waiting in line, and carrying heavy pots, jars, buckets, or jerry cans filled with water. A woman must collect enough water for her household and this involves carrying a heavy 5 gallon 42 pound bucket on her head every day, which can can injure her spine.

Fulfilling this basic need, sometimes as much as 2 or 3 times a day, is a tremendous burden on women and girls, who spend 26% of their time per day fetching water for the household. This basic responsibility keeps children out of school and prevents women from performing the domestic and income generating work that they are responsible for.

Wello is a social enterprise that eases this burden, allowing users to roll 25 gallons of water – which would otherwise weigh about 200 pounds – at a time. This allows women to transport more water in a single trip. Fewer trips to collect water means that women have more time to spend on income generating activities.

Wello is a hybrid social venture whose business model empowers individuals to not only fetch more water faster, but allows people to use the WaterWheel as an income-generating tool to lift their families out of poverty. The for-profit side of the business aims to generate income through sales of the WaterWheel, as well as sales of advertising space on the outside of the device. Each unit accommodates 2-4 ad spaces. Wello’s nonprofit arm will focus on raising awareness of the global clean water crisis.

Wello is founded by Cynthia Koenig, a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience incubating mission driven businesses focused on alleviating poverty in the developing world. Her work in international and sustainable development has taken her to Central America, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, India and China.

Here’s Cynthia delivering Wello’s elevator pitch as a 2011 Unreasonable Institute fellow:

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