Sujol was initiated to tackle issue of Arsenic contaminated shallow well water in Bangladesh, using an innovative and promising Dutch developed technology: Cap DI. To execute this idea, Sujol was set up as a project and included several partners each working on its core business. The ultimate aim is to ‘move’ this project to a feasible social business; this business comprises multiple micro businesses operated by a micro entrepreneur, selling water at an affordable price to the poor.
Phase 1 (2011-2013) was designed to test the Cap DI technique and the willingness to pay for Sujol water. The Sujol team believed poor will only pay for water when it brings the poor immediate benefits. Awareness on the health risks of As contamination are low, so this was not considered as a main reason to buy Sujol water. Improvement of taste was considered as the major direct benefit, that’s why Sujol decided to aim for slightly salty Arsenic rich water.
During phase 1, Sujol proofed people are willing to pay for Sujol water. However, clients perceived the pricing of the water as high, mainly due to competing alternatives. Sujol explored the delivery of water to business partners (tea stall owners and van pullers), however the business case for a tea stall owner is thin and to increase the appetite of van pullers to distribute Sujol water, the price of Sujol water has to decrease by 25-50%.
Our vision for the future is to open up Sujol for different proven technologies that are supported sufficiently and to include a fast track to the market. For several reasons, we think involvement of the garment sector in the fast track makes sense. This industry is under high pressure, partly because of the bad labor conditions of its workers. Providing good and safe water to these workers makes sense, we believe the garment sector will show appetite to support a Sujol business near their plants.
Social impact investing is on the rim to become main streamed, this will take another 3-5 years, but the trend is clear: more and more high net worth individuals prefer to invest instead of donate, taking a more business wise approach. Investing in Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) is a clear example impact investing pays off, from a financial point of view. However the social and environmental impact of commercial operating MFIs' is not a given fact of their business. Most of these institutes realize they have to improve, so why don't MFIs' invest in water and sanitation?More »