In Kenya over half the population lacks access to affordable, safe drinking water. School children in small villages often have to walk miles to nearby villages to get clean drinking water. As a result, they are often absent from school and tend drop out altogether.
An Entrepreneurial Approach
Venuste Kubwimana, grew up in a large rural family of seven siblings in Rwanda. In Nairobi, Kenya, he established the International Transformation Foundation (ITF), a youth-led nonprofit organization to develop youth leadership and creative entrepreneurship in Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. In 2009, ITF identified lack of affordable, clean water as a major issue impeding children’s development and family resilience.
In 2013, ITF partnered with Netherlands-based Join the Pipe Foundation (JTP) to design and produce water kiosks for schools across rural Kenya. The innovative design features: a water-saving tap station, drip taps for hand washing, recyclable water bottles, easy push transport carts.
After discussion with ITF, a school administration commits formally to the project; it is understood that students will manage the business under teacher guidance. A complete installation costs approximately US$10,000. ITF, the school and community members work together to estimate the funds needed to liquidate the costs within 24 months; water sales to community members funds construction costs. JTP has funded tap stations, bottles, sanitation facilities, and carts through a Buy One Give One” campaign in the Netherlands.
School and ITF book keepers maintain detailed records, updated and cross-checked daily. With teacher support, students submit weekly and monthly reports to ITF.
To date, nine kiosks have been installed in three areas of Kenya, benefitting some 4000 students and 70000 community members. These encouraging results have led ITF to expand operations into Rwanda and Tanzania.
This community-based business provides affordable potable water to the entire community independent of third parties. It also develops valuable business skills among the schoolchildren, the community’s future leaders.
Environmentally, the initiative reduces plastic waste and CO2 emissions caused by the production and transport of water bottles and containers.
ITF plans to hold an annual conference for all participating schools to share their experiences and expertise. The conference will lay the foundation of an international entrepreneurial network to meet community social challenges and fund sustainable education.