This idea is a part of Impact Challenge - Business with Purpose
The SolarSack’s purification technique is based on the 25 year old SODIS technology, where users use PET bottles to make water safer to drink. This method has been endorsed by the World Health Organization. SolarSack improves upon this method, both with the construction of the product and by utilizing a plastic lamination that allows for the correct spectrum and amount of UV light to penetrate the water, where it effectively pacifies the organic contaminant through three individual processes that work in synergy.
What makes the SolarSack stand out from other similar products on the market it its price point; each unit retails for $3, making them easily accessible to consumers at the bottom of the wealth pyramid.
We have partnered with the organization Caritas to test the feasibility of the product and our business model. The results were successful - the products work well with the local water, and the end users, primarily female household heads, were enthusiastic about using the SolarSack as their primary method for water sanitization. Furthermore, through our partnership, we will work with Caritas' savings and loans groups, which consists of in total 50,000 women. We will be hiring the members of these groups to be resellers of the SolarSack.
Additionally, distributing the SolarSack to end users while maintaining its low price is possible because of the ease of shipping - one container can fit 200,000 units. With the network we have access to via Caritas, we will be able to set up distribution networks with ease.
Charcoal and firewood are the main biomass energy sources for most households in both rural and urban areas with an average charcoal consumption of 750,000 tonnes annually in Tanzania alone. Economically speaking, replacing charcoal with the SolarSack can save the end users a lot of money. One SolarSack, costing only $3, provides around 600 liters of water for one person. It is the same price as two kilograms of charcoal, which provides only fifty liters of water for one person - thus the SolarSack is twelve times cheaper than boiling water, freeing up more of the end users’ funds. When it comes to the environment, the SolarSack has a huge potential in making an impact - the average East African uses 30 kilograms of charcoal a year just for boiling water and produces 100 kg of c02 emissions. If every person in East Africa with limited access to clean water switched to the SolarSack, that would equal to a reduction of 4.7 million less tonnes of c02 emissions a year. The CO2 emissions of the SolarSack - including transportation and production - equals to 0.175 kilograms, meaning the product emits 630 times less CO2 than the current method.
Along with reducing c02 emissions, the SolarSack has an impact on indoor pollution. Inefficient cooking fuels and technologies produce high levels of household air pollution with a range of health-damaging pollutants, including small soot particles that penetrate deep into the lungs. In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can be 100 times higher than acceptable levels for fine particles. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth. Additionally, more than 50% of premature deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 are caused by the particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution. Using the SolarSack limits the use of inefficient cooking fuels, which dramatically reduces indoor air pollutant. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
Additionally, the SolarSack eliminates exposure to waterborne illnesses from drinking water. Healthier people - especially healthier women - means more hours spent working, going to school, and involving oneself in their community.
Finally, implementing our business model in East Africa will provide job opportunities for the local female residents of the communities. We will be providing job training to these women, and will be opening local management branches to provide more job opportunities to the people of the region. Thus, the potential economic impact of job access - as well as money saved by switching to the SolarSack - is clearly evident.
The scalability of our model lies on the approach to develop a win-win situation. SolarSack aims to offer a highly innovative product for a very low profit margin. Due to the number of potential consumers, the number of sales has the potential to be extremely high. Therefore, profits are driven by volume rather than high margins.
The win-win situation is created by including the local population into the business model. SolarSack aims to be sold by direct sales performed by the local population. Thus, SolarSack delivers not only a healthier solution for the safe water issue, but also a significant benefit for the poor in terms of poverty reduction, increased productivity, and empowerment.
The key challenge to scale is efficiently reaching local women as sales representatives, which we are addressing through our partnerships with Caritas, and Red Cross Kenya. We are currently experiencing a new wave in the NGO community where every NGO wants to make additional revenue aside from grants for foundation. We are riding this wave and enabling the NGOs to make a small profit on each bag sold by functioning as the connecting link to the local loans and savings groups as well as cooperatives. As we scale this role will be replaced by our sales rep platform or at the very least be supported so that we can track large numbers of sales representatives, their stock, and reorders through geographical locations. Furthermore, we have been contacted by organisations in Asia, South America and India, who want SolarSack, both in their refugee camps, and help it become a local solution and integrated part of their economy.
The SolarSack was created in response to SDG6, to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. A key issue with water access issues is not only the availability of water sources, but its drinkability. The SolarSack aims to address this by providing a cheap, innovative and environmentally friendly solution to water sanitation concerns.
Watch a demonstration of the SolarSack here - https://vimeo.com/283878024
Our website - https://www.solarsack.com/
Our pitchdeck - https://drive.google.com/file/d/12C7kHI9cgzIM_sO0q5D-zuKNQdiZvRo9/view?usp=sharing