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Profit for Good

I have written a lot about the growing trend to see for-profit solutions to the world’s problems. Grameen Bank being the most famous example, there are many people who believe that unlike traditional philanthropy, for-profit business has built-in sustainability. I don’t think it’s either or. There are certain things that defy traditional market forces that need the giving of individuals, organizations and governments. But there are other things that, with some creativity, the market will take care of.

The issue of water is a big one and there are two things on this I want to bring your attention to. One of them is something where market forces are being used and the other is more traditional philanthropy — both to great effect. The first is about redesigning the water carrier. A little design, and some market forces and you can change the lives of millions of women and children around the world. It falls into the category of “why didn’t I think of that?”

It’s a rolling 20-gallon water carrier. It is so smooth a kid could do it and it replaces those jerrycans that women carry on their heads. The Times reports on an exhibit in New York called “Design for the Other 90%” about designers who have created products to help people living on less than $2 per day live better. If you click on the story you can see an image of this water carrier.

The story is also about how market forces can be put to work to make a sustainable difference if we focus some talent on the problems. Watch the video here.

The other water thing I want to tell you about is an organization called PlayPumps. The idea is simple… design a water pump in the form of a children’s playground toy. You know those things that spin? Kids run and spin and sit and all the while they are pumping water for their village or neighborhood. PlayPumps is raising money for 100 pumps in 100 days. We are hosting a PSA contest for PlayPumps at DoGooderTV. If you have a video camera, enter the PlayPumps PSA contest and win a MacBook Pro with FinalCut. Here’s the blurb:

Calling all budding filmmakers! PlayPumps International wants you to create our next PSA.

Help spread the word clean drinking water crisis and highlight solutions that young people and/or adults can use to make a difference in both local and global communities.

PlayPumps International, with support from Reebok, women’s tennis star Nicole Vaidisova, the Case Foundation, Hard Rock International, Flashbags and The Motley Fool, is holding a contest to encourage youth and adults to produce the best Public Service Announcement (PSA) video about the clean drinking water crisis. The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of the clean drinking water crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and compel people to act on behalf of PlayPumps.

Five videos will be selected as finalists by a panel of celebrity judges. One video from among those five will be selected as the contest’s official prize-winning entry, based on voting by the general public. Our grand prize winner will receive a new 15″ MacBook Pro with Final Cut Express and more! Contest entry deadline is June 15, 2007.

1 Comment

Comments about the Play Pump

The playpump idea was rejected already some 10 years ago in Africa, it was considered not sustainable and also far too expensive. Problems were:
- kids dont want to play for water after some weeks
- the wheel is too heavy for one kid
- the maintenance is too complicated and expensive
- the mantenance is too much dependend on advertising
- the reservoir will leak and water is lost
- funding should be better spend on realistic water projects


It is now just a very clever way of some business man to make quick money, they sell at over 10.000 US$ each (…!…)

We are very sorry about the fact that people are still being fooled by this kind of hoax or fake water projects.

For schools we advise more sustainable water pumps or solar.

Watsan Consult

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