Entrepreneur Seeks To Clean Water For 200 Million In India, Bangladesh
One of the highlights at this year’s SOCAP was the presentation of the Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network; DrinkWell won the award for Health.
DrinkWell founder and CEO Mihaj Chowdhury explained why he established the company in Bangladesh, “In water, the more your value chain relies on out-of-country parties, the less likely your product will succeed. By creating a value chain that enables locals to make a margin each step of the way, you can ensure a cash-efficient, scalable business.
Minhaj continued, “The best way to crack the problem of distribution in rural regions is to co-opt existing distribution channels. When locals see an immediate opportunity to radically improve their earning ability and standard of living by adopting your product, you can have a practical conversation about eradicating intractable issues such as the arsenic water crisis.”
“Whenever possible, we need to treat customers at the Base of Pyramid the same way we treat customers in the West – by appealing to aspirations of beauty, happiness, and prosperity alongside long-term improved health outcomes. Only then will consumers be willing to part with their hard-earned dollars for something they can otherwise access for free,” Minhaj concluded.
On Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Minhaj will join me for a live discussion about DrinkWell. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
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More about DrinkWell:
200 million people across Bangladesh and India are at risk of arsenic and fluoride poisoning due to contaminated groundwater, a crisis the World Health Organization calls “the largest mass poisoning in human history” as 1 in 5 deaths in Bangladesh alone occur due to this crisis. UNICEF anticipates a $13.1 billion loss in GDP due to the arsenic crisis over the next 20 years. Drinkwell transforms this crisis into entrepreneurial opportunity by blending proprietary, locally-sourced technology with a franchise business model that co-opts existing rural distribution channels.Building off 200 successful deployments across India, Laos, and Cambodia, Drinkwell’s technology delivers sixty times more water, requires little to no electricity, and reduces waste by six orders of magnitude compared to current best practice Reverse Osmosis. Drinkwell leverages the entrepreneurial spirit within communities to support local franchisees, thereby creating jobs, generating income, improving health outcomes, and ensuring a healthier, profitable future.
Minhaj Chowdhury is the CEO of Drinkwell, a social enterprise eradicating the arsenic water crisis by blending novel water purification technology with a micro-franchise business model. As a Bangladeshi-American, Minhaj is passionate about solving a crisis that results in one out of every five deaths in Bangladesh alone. As a Public Health major at Johns Hopkins, Minhaj spent a summer in rural Bangladesh distributing 100 household water filters only to find 3 still in use 2 years later. He returned as a Fulbright Fellow with BRAC, the largest NGO in the world, to understand why water projects continue to fail and found a lack of job creation and paying customers as critical barriers to sustainability. His research has been presented to the Bangladesh Secretary of Health, UNICEF, and NGO officials, and serves as the inspiration behind Drinkwell. Minhaj is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow and has won numerous prizes and awards for his work in Bangladesh from organizations such as the State Department, TiE, and South by Southwest.
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