Water and sanitation
Earlier in her career as an academic and researcher, Dr. Vibha Tripathi always aspired to work on a topic with immediate relevance to the people of India. Her aim was a simple one: “Using technology to support people.”
Today, Swajal Water machines are already to be found in all four corners of the country and all the major cities, with some 500 – 600 touch points providing clean water to countless Indians. “If you look at the population pyramid of India,” explains Dr. Tripathi, “it can be divided into those who can afford clean drinking water, and those who can’t.”
While access to water is clearly the most pressing issue, litter stems directly from the usage of plastic water bottles too, so Swajal focuses on both segments: those without access to water get it, and those with access are encouraged to reduce bottle usage, with Swajal having save at least 25,000kg of plastic bottles already to date by distributing their own glass alternatives.
At the heart of Swajal Water’s business is its Water ATM ®, an innovative solar-powered water purification and distribution machine able to produce drinking-safe water at extremely low costs (circa $0.01 per litre). Powered by photovoltaic solar cells, the machines pump water from nearby sources such as wells or groundwater, purifying by use of UV light or ozone.
These drinking water machines also function in a decentralized manner, making use of IoT-based monitoring and a myriad of equitable digital payment methods to make Swajal’s Water ATM ® machines as economically and geographically viable in the most remote village as any thriving heavy-footfall street corner or bustling train station.
PFAN has this unique linkage between third and first world. It’s a great place for anybody working in social impact.
Dr. Tripathi has long been connected with the PFAN community, and attributes much of Swajal’s successful scaling thus far to indispensable advice from Swajal’s PFAN advisor:
“He mentored me throughout everything, not only financial things, but also how to scale up, and other questions…. Either he supported me with his knowledge, or worked as a sounding board. He made my financial sheets better, marketing plans were improved – also our pitches!”
“It was in fact on PFAN-supported trips to Vancouver and Singapore that Swajal Water was able to secure some landmark pitches along its journey. “PFAN has this unique linkage between third and first world. It’s a great place for anybody working in social impact.”
With hundreds of machines throughout the country already providing equitable clean water, not to mention saving plastic along the way, Swajal is entering its next growth cycle. Practically custom-built for the South and South East Asian market place, Thailand is already under consideration for expansion, as are Bangladesh and Nepal. The system is even already registered in Singapore.
“I feel like if we keep our story tight, then we can be at the top,” explains the co-founder, understandably confident in the sheer size of the potential market for Swajal’s innovative, solar-powered and decentralized water purification system. “Our target is to reach $100 million turnover – which we think we can get to without any issues.”