The entrepreneur in you

Many entrepreneurs are discouraged from entering the safe water sector because they perceive low profits and an unreliable supply chain. Some more conservative entrepreneurs, notably at the shop-keeping end of the spectrum, even demand protective measures.

Clearly, many obstacles hinder progress: uncontrolled gifting of HWTS solutions is good for someone else’s conscience, but not, ultimately for the consumer. Nor for the trader on whom a supply chain depends. The market gets very distorted.

The seminal study by Hystra (Access to safe water for the BoP, 2011) suggested that no remote safe water supply chain can grow without some form of facilitation, fiscal, monetary or immaterial. True, and tax incentives, and compliance with well-formulated standards, are high on our agenda (see Regulator). But the business model always starts with the energy of an entrepreneur.

Careful though, Hystra also wisely warn that the ‘pioneers’ in the market will get “blown away” by opportunists, once the market has been proven.

For us as a business, it’s very important that any hand-outs do not interfere with the business of our resellers, because that would really interfere with the long-term business of our company and its long-term growth. So in the case where our resellers sell them to government and they are giving them away, that is good for our business and also for the distribution of water filters in Indonesia, in general.

—Guido van Hofwezen, co-founder of Nazava Water Filters, Bandung/Aceh, Indonesia

This and other quotes by Guido, are included in issue 3 of our Upscale magazine, in the interview podcast ‘A Word with Guido’ and in other parts of our video suite, including ‘When WHEN came home’.

Scaling up access to safe water