|By Whisky Live Staff||19-02-2017|
“Over 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe drinking water. This directly causes the deaths of millions around the world each year, subsequently resulting in enormous social and economic costs that can hold communities back from full development,” says James Steere, Co-founder and Director of Strategy & Business Development of social enterprise I-Drop Water, which won South Africa’s edition of The Venture entrepreneurship competition.
I-Drop Water designs, develops and deploys water purification and dispensing units that sell completely safe drinking water at affordable prices from local grocery stores.
Launched in 2014, The Venture is a Chivas Regal Global Social Entrepreneurship competition aimed at supporting businesses that do well by doing good, and bring about positive change. Previous winners have been social enterprises that massively benefit communities such as Lumkani, which produces a fire detector for informal settlements, and an accident detecting app called CrashDetech.
Said Shelley Reeves, Marketing Manager: Scotch Whiskies at Chivas Regal South Africa, “Just like the previous winners, Mr Steere will soon travel to the global final of the competition in Los Angeles where he will compete against other deserving finalists from 31 countries across six continents for a share of USD1 million to take his business to the next humanitarian level.”
I-Drop Water is a for-profit social enterprise that is already transforming the way safe drinking water is bought and sold in Africa. Formed just two years ago, the company hopes to be a sustainable, scalable solution to the lack of access to safe drinking water on the continent, and thus reach the huge market of those who desperately need safe drinking water but cannot afford it.
The best part is that I-Drop Water’s purification process is 100% environmentally friendly; during the removal of bacteria, viruses and cysts from the water, no electricity or chemicals are used and no waste water is produced. “We at I-Drop Water see the lack of access to clean, safe drinking water as not exclusively a government problem, but one that the business community could help solve. For instance, people who can afford bottled water pay a premium for a commodity that should be low-cost, while destroying the environment with plastic waste. We aim to break this pattern,” says Mr Steere.
Besides protecting and improving the health of millions, I-Drop Water will also economically uplift the operators of its products: shop owners who want to sell safe drinking water to their clientele enter into a revenue-sharing arrangement with I-Drop Water on all sales, and there are no up-front capital costs or maintenance expenses.
Already operating as a business; iDrop Water is displayed in 56 grocery stores in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.”
The fledgling business featured on Chivas Regal South Africa’s exciting Elevator Pitch-series, where an esteemed panel of judges – consisting of former CEO of multi-billion rand diversified African investment holding company Shanduka and current Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital Phuti Mahanyele; IT influencer best known as the founder of fintech company Thumbzup Innovation Stafford Masie; and renowned entrepreneur and content architect Kojo Baffoe – declared I-Drop Water the overall winner in terms of idea, business plan and product pitch.
The fact that the company has already racked up a number of accolades in its short existence, including the Skoll Venture Award from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, should give South Africans confidence that James Steere and I-Drop Water will have more than a fighting chance against some of the best social entrepreneurs in the world as they upskill and battle it out during the Accelerator Week at Oxford in March 2017, and then compete for the ultimate honour in this year’s Los Angeles final.
For more information on the journey of the global finalists visit www.theventure.com