Feb 27, 2015 • 22M

#222: Water.org Looks To 'WaterCredit' To Expand Access To Water And Sanitation

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Some of the world's great changemakers join host Devin Thorpe to share leadership lessons you can use to increase your impact.
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February 19, 2015 - Read the full Forbes article and watch the interview here: http://onforb.es/1A7lfmA. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ymotwitunes or on Stitcher by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ymotwstitcher. “There’s nothing more fundamental than the need for safe water and sanitation,” says Gary White, who partnered with Matt Damon to create Water.org. White notes that “a staggering number of people lack access to these things. Many die as a result. Communities and countries stay trapped in poverty. About 750 million people – one in nine-lack access to safe water. More than twice that many, 2.5 billion people, do not have access to a toilet.” “In just one day, women spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. That is equivalent to the amount of time it would take to build 28 Empire State Buildings—in one day. Imagine the wealth these women will create when they can use these 200 million hours in productive employment, rather than foraging for water,” White adds. Water.org has observed that many people who live in urban slums live on top of water systems to which they don’t have access. White explains that they have developed a new strategy for giving the poor access to existing systems. White says, “We created WaterCredit to unleash the power of the poor. By enabling the poor to finance toilets and taps in their own homes, we’re spreading capital costs across a broader swath of stakeholders. Progress goes up at an exponential rate.” “This approach is working. It’s transforming lives. And it’s ready to really take off. WaterCredit has so far made it possible for over two million people in six countries to gain access to water or build toilets in their homes. Forty-eight microfinance institutions help us administer the loans. The loans are repaid at the rate of 99%. And over 90% of our borrowers are women. Since 2004, we’ve invested over $10.9 million in WaterCredit. This has in turn leveraged an additional $97 million in commercial and social capital. Traditional charity, by its nature, is unable to achieve this kind of impact,” White concludes. Please consider whether a friend or colleague might benefit from this piece and, if so, share it.