Village Women Run Safe Water Franchises in Arsenic-Hit India, Bangladesh

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rural housewives in countries such as India and Bangladesh, where ground water has high levels of arsenic, are being encouraged to set up businesses to sell safe water to save lives in their communities and earn some income.

U.S.-based social enterprise Drinkwell Systems has developed a new system for removing toxic heavy metals from water and is seeking to scale up the process by selling the technology to community-based entrepreneurs with microcredit loans.

Drinkwell CEO Minhaj Chowdhury said the company had sold 208 units across India, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal and Cambodia since setting up in 2013, providing safe water to 250,000 people.

Chowdhury, a U.S. national of Bangladeshi origin whose grandfather died of arsenicosis, said 20 percent of the business leaders were women.

“We actually find that women are the agents of change for water. You will never find men collecting water,” Chowdhury told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Females are our best entrepreneurs. They are our best stewards of money, they are our best advocates. Men tend to take more risks with the money.”

Arsenic is naturally present in the ground and particularly high levels are found in regions in Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico, Thailand and the United States.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)