540,000 Malawians to be provided with safe, clean water by 2018

11 Sep 2015

New York, 11 September – Basic Water Needs, a Dutch manufacturer and marketer of household water treatment and safe storage products, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative  supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international organizations that encourages companies to fight poverty through innovative business models. As part of its commitment, Basic Water Needs plans to distribute its low-cost Tulip Table Top water filters to more than 540,000 Malawians by 2018, making safe and clean drinking water more available, easily accessible, and affordable.

It’s new assembly plant in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city, will provide full-time employment to ten women, and plans to train more than 100 women entrepreneurs to sell Basic Water Needs products through their own shops and local networks. Basic Water Needs projects that the initiative will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 150,000 tons.

Working with two local partners, Safi Water Treatment Solutions and ARKAY Plastics Industry Ltd., Basic Water Needs’ inclusive business model involves local development and production of Tulip Table Top water filters to meet customer-specific needs and reduce distribution costs. The company aims to market its products through direct sales to reach customers at the base and middle of the economic pyramid, ARKAY’s retail network reach of more than 300 shops in Malawi, and partnerships with NGOs that will also raise awareness of proper hygiene and product use among Malawi’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

“At Basic Water Needs, we take our social responsibility very seriously and strive to make our whole supply chain sustainable, respecting both human rights and our environmental impact,” stated Jens Groot, the company’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are honoured to join the Business Call to Action and look forward to working with both BCtA and our fellow members to strengthen the impact of our work.”

Locating an assembly plant in Malawi is part of Basic Water Needs’ broader strategy to make low-cost water filters available for all income groups by helping to increase market share within the country, and to provide it and its partners a strategic location from which to strengthen regional distribution. Currently, the company’s manufacturing takes place in India, making transport costs high for the comparatively low-cost Tulip Table Top filter. Local manufacture will enable the company to transport its goods to the 19 other countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which Malawi is a member. In addition to scaling up regionally, Basic Water Needs is starting a similar initiative in Ethiopia. And there are plans to replicate the initiative in other countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, by 2018.

The incidence of water-related diseases in Malawi is high. According to UNICEF, diarrhea is the fifth leading cause of death among children under five. Yet the lack of infrastructure investment in the country is leading to a decline in access to drinking water. In addition, approximately 67 percent of Malawi’s population does not adequately treat water to ensure it is safe to drink. To address these challenges, Basic Water Needs is partnering with local NGOs on a social marketing and awareness campaign to encourage good hygiene practices while supporting the company’s product distribution.

“Every year, 2 million people from low-income families – mostly children – die from preventable waterborne illnesses, so there is a great need for safe, reliable drinking water in both rural and urban communities,” said Suba Sivakumaran, BCtA Programme Manager. “Inclusive businesses like Basic Water Needs exemplify the ability to meet a critical development need with a viable business model that also builds markets and drives innovation.”

About Business Call to action (BCtA):

The Business Call to Action challenges companies to advance core business activities that are inclusive of poor populations and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.  Worldwide, 110 companies, from SMEs to multinationals, have responded to the BCtA by making commitments to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions through commercially-viable business ventures that engage low-income people as consumers, producers, suppliers, and distributors of goods and services.

The Business Call to Action is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat — in collaboration with leading global institutions, such as the United Nations Global Compact, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Basic Water Needs:

Basic Water Needs (BWN) is recognized for its impact in developing, producing and distributing water purification and conservation products; creating access to safe drinking water for everyone. Over the last 10 years, BWN has supplied water filters to more than 2 million people worldwide, offering safe and durable drinking water products that are simple to use and last for thousands of liters.

BWN works through its own network in many parts of the world making sure that all income groups, including the Bottom and Base of the Pyramid (BoP), have access to safe drinking water products. With its headquarters based in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and its factory in Pondicherry, South India, BWN meets the needs of its users and stakeholders; making safe drinking water simple, affordable and available.

Contact Information

Business Call to Action: Jeanne Finestone, jeanne.finestone@undp.org

Basic Water Needs: Maria Besteman, mariabesteman@basicwaterneeds.com