The goal of the Ripple Effect project — a collaborative effort between IDEO, the Gates Foundation and the Acumen Fund — was to help social enterprises increase their ability to distribute water. Nine projects in India and Kenya were funded with $15,000 each to develop pilot projects. Today, four of the projects are still in pilot phase and five are “actively going forward,” says Sally Madsen, IDEO’s project leader.
Those still in pilot include two projects discussed on Change Observer. One involved creating a prototype of a three-wheeled water delivery cart that can be easily maneuvered over poor roads. Another is the Naandi Foundation project, focused on devising an easy-to-carry water vessel that easily contours to the body.
Moving forward is the Pure Flow project in Kenya, in which a for-profit company set up kiosks to sell purified water to low-income people. The vision is to create a franchise business with this system; one pilot is currently operating in Nairobi and the company is exploring how to raise funds and scale up the model.
Madsen says that having so many of the projects going ahead “in a committed and focused way” is encouraging, considering that the original grants were to seed innovation. Now the sponsors are working with the entrepreneurs to find substantial funding that would allow the projects to be financially sustainable on their own.