SOCAP11 Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Cynthia Koenig, Wello (India)

SOCAP September 1, 2011

Why should people care?
Wello is a social venture with a bold mission – to effectively deliver clean water to a thirsty world. By reframing the water crisis as an opportunity, Wello has reinvented the wheel. The WaterWheel is a leapfrog technology – just like mobile phones replaced landlines, WaterWheels have the potential to replace piped water infrastructure!
Why is this important? Poverty is inextricably linked with the availability, proximity, quantity and quality of water. For most of us, clean water comes with the twist of a faucet. But for one billion people on the planet, access to water requires hours of walking, waiting in line, and heavy lifting. The majority of the poor have access to only one or two gallons of water per day, far less than the minimum daily amount (5 gallons) recommended by the UN to maintain a basic level of health. In addition, water collection places a tremendous burden on women and girls, who spend an average of 26% of their time every day collecting water, travelling 6-8 miles a day in this fashion.
By facilitating easier, more reliable access to safe water, the WaterWheel frees up valuable time, and in the process, removes barriers that prevent children from going to school and empowers women to engage in more productive activities. Research shows that when women have extra time, they choose to spend it on activities that boost family income, education, health, and wellbeing. Women with even a few years of education have smaller, healthier families, and are more likely to send their children to school… and female education is a key means of breaking the cycle of poverty. Wello’s model helps achieve six of the eight Millennium Development Goals, creates jobs, improves health and increases access to education; it’s the girl effect in action!
Wello is at an exciting point in our history. Over the summer of 2010, we tested consumer response to the concept of rolling water in India. Based on user feedback, we co-created the design of our WaterWheel 2.0 prototype (see image) and business model. In a few weeks, our team will head to India to launch our pilot. We’re currently seeking partners who can share their expertise and funders and investors who can help us make our vision a reality. For more information about Wello, please visit

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