We are happy to share Waterpreneurs 2018 highlights and our plans for 2019, supporting the scaling-up of impact investments financing the growth of water and sanitation enterprises operating in developing countries, and respecting human rights.
Globally, and after 3 years of existence working in “start-up style”, we are now entering quickly and well into our “scaling-up phase” with the support of various strategic partners, in Africa, Asia and Americas.
Following the success of the first edition in June 2017 in Geneva, we decided to focus our activities on the organization of the "Innovate 4 Water" forums in order to help reinforce local ecosystems around water entrepreneurship and finance and help close the visibility gap between water operators (utilities, entrepreneurs), investors and enablers (governments, NGO’s and corporations). Thus, in 2018 we organized two "Innovate 4 Water" forums in Africa (Nairobi and Abuja) and two side events in Switzerland (Zug and Lausanne). In addition, we continued to develop our networks of contacts and strategic partnerships, specifically:
At the end of 2017, we were selected to join the first United Nations entrepreneurial cohort in Geneva. In this context, we helped them start and structure a network around entrepreneurship and finance in Geneva to develop social and environmental projects.
In early 2018, as part of a working group led by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we participated in the design of their performance indicators on water and sanitation for the social entrepreneurs in the sector.
In 2018, we deepen our collaboration with the “Swiss Water Entrepreneurship Pact” (SWEP), a collaboration of organisations supporting water entrepreneurship and enabling water entrepreneurs to play a leading role in realising access to safe water and sanitation for all. This initiative, which we jump-started in early 2017, is now evolving fast, currently on-boarding international partners from Europe, to reach-out soon a global scale (the “Global Water Entrepreneurship Pact”).
In September 2018, the OECD invited us to join their "Water Governance Initiative" as a member, which we, of course, accepted, allowing us to collaborate directly with most of the world's influential organisations in our sector.
In September 2017, we were invited to join SWA (Sanitation and Water for All), a global partnership committed to achieving universal access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, Washington-based and led by Catarina de Albuquerque (former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Safe Water and Sanitation). This multi-stakeholder initiative brings together more than 70 countries, 20+ external support agencies (i.e. UNICEF, the World Bank, The Africa Development Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.), 90 civil society representatives (i.e. Action Against Hunger, Water Integrity Network, Water.org, etc.), 20+ research and learning institutions (i.e. International Water Centre, WaterAid, etc.) and 20 private sector representatives (i.e. Unilever, Aquafed, the CEO Water Mandate, Waterpreneurs, etc). We actively support this initiative in the countries where we deploy the "" forums.
In December 2018, we were invited to join as experts the "25 + SDG Cities", a coalition of 25 global cities leading the development agenda. This initiative is personally endorsed by Michael Møller, the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). As part of this initiative, at the World Economic Forum in Davos in end January, we will present an international coalition (the "IW +") which we jump-started in end 2018 and which proposes water and sanitation sustainable and investable entrepreneurial solutions for cities around the world.
Regarding the forthcoming deployment of the "Innovate 4 Water" forums, for the whole of 2019 and 2020, for the Asia-Pacific zone, we will be active in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Australia. In Africa, the next "Innovate 4 Water" forum will take place in Kisumu, Kenya, in early February (6th & 7th) and we are planning forums in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. In Latin America, we are considering Costa Rica, Brazil and Mexico. Basically, we anticipate to be very soon at an annual rate of twelve "Innovate 4 Water" forums and we are preparing to scale up, as we are discussing a comprehensive plan for the Asia-Pacific region covering 18 countries on a period of 3 years. In addition, other global discussions with development agencies such as USAID and global networks of incubators and start-up accelerators, such as Seedstars and Impact Hub, are progressing well and concretely. We also have encouraging conversations with other key partners in our sector such as Aqua for All (Netherlands), the Quercus Group (Denmark) and Danone Communities (France).
We hope that this overview allows you to understand a little better what we are doing and where we are heading to, delivering our mission around “safe investments for safe water”. Thank you again for your encouragement and help since the beginning of this endeavour. We will keep you informed.
Brieux, Franck and Nicolas