What does a 'social enterprise' approach to getting people safe water mean and why is it important?

Because there is such a high failure rate of rural water systems – 30-60% fail within the first 3 years -- Safe Water Network believes a more pragmatic, results orientated approach is required. 

With a focus on local sustainability, meaning, empowering communities to own and manage water systems, we are focused on training and supporting communities so that they can ultimatley stand on their own.

We also believe that the long-term success of a Safe Water Station is dependent on sound management and fiscal responsibility. A station must generate sufficient revenue to cover operating costs and build a reserve for maintenance and capital recovery. At the same time it is important to ensure that the water is priced affordably to ensure fair and equitable access.

To get the right balance, enough people in the village must be willing to pay a nominal amount for safe water to keep the price low and yet still generate the income to cover costs.

For a social enterpirse approach to work, the community must be involved from Day One in governance, as well as make an investment of up to 15% of the upfront capital in the form of cash, buildings and land.

The social enterprise approach incorporates the business and humanitarian elements required to attract the capital and manpower to scale successfully. Our model section of the site addresses in detail the various components of our approach.

Finally, there is growing recognition by governments and such organizations as the Gates Foundation that a market-based approach has the most potential for global, sustainable impact.