WaterHealth International: Providing Safe Drinking Water to the Bottom of the Pyramid Consumers (Abridged)

Case Details Case Introduction 1 Case Introduction 2 Case Excerpts

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About Waterhealth International

In 1996, Addy, a Ghana-based entrepreneur, set up WHI. The organization’s stated aim was to “invest in business that aid society”. By setting up this organization, Addy planned to address the water problem faced by communities in developing countries. He said that he often felt the need to do something for people in water-stressed communities where women and girls traveled long distances to haul water.

He also cited the example of his childhood days in Ghana where he had to wait in long lines to fill water from the tap. According to him, providing safe and clean drinking water was one of the best ways to impact the lives of the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BOP) communities......

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Creating A Sustainable Business Model

WHI installed its UVW system in places such as schools, hospitals, and local communities. It also installed the systems at homes and in apartment buildings. Its flagship offering was WHCs (also called Community Water Systems). A standard WHC was approximately 55 square meters in size with an additional area for social use. The WHC was designed to act as a place for social gathering for the village people. .......

Whi's Worldwide Operations

As of 2009, WHI operated through subsidiaries in three countries – India, the Philippines, and Ghana. The company’s prime focus had been on India where more than 200 of its water facilities had been installed. The company also had UVW systems installations in some other countries......

Scaling Up

Many investors were attracted by the business model and ingenious technology adopted by WHI which helped the company in scaling up its business model. Whereas in 2005, the company could install WHCs in only two new sites, it installed in more than 40 new sites in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, WHI installed WHCs in more than 140 and 300 new sites respectively........

The Challenges

WHI had to negotiate various challenges over the years. Some of these still posed significant obstacles in the way of its achieving its mission. WHI’s initial challenges lay in the cost of its UVW system since most of the communities targeted by WHI were under-served and lacked adequate capital to install the system. Moreover, a few villagers were unhappy that they had to pay for drinking water which, till then, had been free. It was also reported that several local residents still fetched water from contaminated resources despite the availability of potable water.........

Looking Ahead

By mid-2009, WHI was providing safe drinking water to more than one million people around the world. Experts felt that WHI’s efforts at providing potable water to the poor would significantly contribute to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015. They also noted that various organizations with different business models had come up to address the problem of providing safe water to needy communities .......


Exhibit I:WHI’s Vision and Values
Exhibit II: How the UVW Technology Worked
Exhibit III:A Typical System Configuration of a WHI System
Exhibit IV: Photographs of WHCs
Exhibit V: WHI’s Investment Cost Advantage vs. Other Options
Exhibit VI: WHI Operational Structure in India
Exhibit VII: Some Business Models Adopted by Organizations Operating in the Safe Water Sector
Exhibit VIII: WHI’s Management Team and Board of Directors