dloHaiti provides clean drinking water to Haitians at a lower cost than other water companies, and at a profit. The key to their success is solar-powered water filter kiosks.
Jim Chu, formerly an executive of Cisco Systems, formed dloHaiti in order to help the people and prove that helping people can be profitable. Mr. Chu says, “Sometimes, and this is unfortunate, the phrase “social business” is used as shorthand for “bad business”. I want to be able to prove anyone wrong who believes this.”
Currently, Haiti suffers from a lack of clean water. The earthquake in 2010 destroyed much of the infrastructure. Although some remains and some has been rebuilt, pipe systems carrying clean drinking water reach only one-third of the urban poor and less than one-third of the rural poor. Diesel trucks transport water from a centralized location to kiosks. People then walk, sometimes long distances, to get the water from the kiosks. The lowest price these companies offer their drinking water for is twelve cents per gallon.
dloHaiti uses solar-powered kiosks to filter the water near where the people live. This not only cuts down on transport costs, it also cuts down on potential contamination as water moves through pipes or truck tanks. The solar-powered filters are made from easy to obtain parts, so they can be repaired locally.
The advantage of a for-profit business is that it is self-perpetuating. The water kiosks make a profit, supplying a job or jobs to locals, who will keep that business running so they can keep making a living. At the same time, the steady supply of clean water provides a social good to the community.
dloHaiti expects to build forty solar-powered water filtering kiosks in Haiti this year, serving 145,000 people.
Horses drinking water in Haiti photo via Shutterstock