Our Story

The story of our founding and our growing global impact.

Our Founding

Story FoundingSafe Water Network was founded in 2006 by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and a group of civic leaders.

“I don’t think there’s anything exceptional or noble in being philanthropic. It’s the other attitude that confuses me.”

Paul Newman, in an interview with “Film Monthly” published in 2002.

Newman was passionate about the welfare of children and the environment. He founded several other charitable initiatives: Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, Newman’s Own Foundation, and SeriousFun Children’s Network.

Our Journey

Since its founding, Safe Water Network has worked to overcome the challenges faced by communities in developing economies with restricted access to safe water. Preliminary research identified critical gaps in service delivery: unreliable operations, financial unsustainability, poor quality water, and inequitable access. Our innovative original idea was to restore agency to communities through access to safe water, education, and capacity building. We believe deeply in the potential of communities to sustainably manage their own safe water systems.

We chose to begin our field implementation work in Ghana and India because of the enabling environments in both countries, including an openness to foreign investment, stable democracy and civil society, and a common language base. Starting and growing this work was possible through strong in-country teams of experts collaborating with a network of public and private partners. Through Field Implementation, Technical Assistance, and Sector Engagement, Safe Water Network is committed to providing the resources and practices that ensure millions of people in Ghana, India and globally have access to safe water.

Our Story

Scaling Our Global Impact


Founded by Paul Newman, John Whitehead, and other civic leaders


Launched the first Safe Water Stations in Ghana and India


Installed our first Safe Water Station remote monitoring system


Implemented a community water system in Kibera, Kenya in partnership with Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco)


Conducted a review of the market potential for small water enterprises in Kenya with World Bank group member, the International Finance Corporation


Launched iJal Women’s Empowerment Program in India


Provided policy recommendations on bringing tap water to every home to the national Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation in India


Launched Technical Assistance project supporting the state Government of Karnataka in India to improve performance of 18,000 water purification systems for 20 million people


Partnered with USAID on the Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health (SEWAH) project, bringing together private and public sector actors to address safe water access in urban areas of India


Implemented our first community-wide piped connections program in
Nobewam, Ghana, with more than 90% of families accessing safe water at home


Who We Are

Learn more about our committed global team.