1 in 10 people lack access to safe water
1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet
Women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water
Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $4 economic return

Small loans, big impact: WaterCredit

Definition of WaterCredit: (n) WaterCredit by Water.org puts financial tools to work in the water and sanitation sector. It allows people in need to access small loans for water connections or toilets, empowering them to accelerate change in their own homes and communities - enabling a life of health and opportunity.

One of the major barriers to safe water and sanitation is affordable financing. WaterCredit is the first program to put microfinance tools to work in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.

It is a pay-it-forward system that makes it possible to help more people in ways that will last.

Here’s how it works:

  • We find a region that is ready for a microfinance solution—enough need to sustain the change, a financial infrastructure, a demand for micro-loans, and the ability to make a big impact.
  • We partner with carefully selected 
microfinance institutions who provide loans to a person or family in need for water connections or toilets. 

  • We support our partners in getting the microfinance program off the ground—providing resources, go-to-market support, education, outreach, and “smart subsidy” to get them started.
  • The loans through WaterCredit are affordable, making them easy to repay. Once the loan is repaid, it can go to the next person who needs it—starting a cycle of new opportunity for entire communities.
  • Access to safe water and sanitation is a crucial step towards prosperity.

WaterCredit is working

It’s transforming lives. It’s gaining momentum. As of June 2016, WaterCredit has empowered more than four million people across eight countries with access to safe water and sanitation. Once a high risk experiment, WaterCredit is now changing the face of the water crisis.

  • 938,000 loans disbursed 

  • 99% repayment rate
  • $187 average loan size
  • 93% of borrowers are women
WaterCredit continues to gain momentum year over year. This accelerated impact is evidence that our foundational investment is paying dividends. It’s proof of the true exponential promise of WaterCredit which is much greater than the safe water and sanitation it provides. Innovative solutions such as WaterCredit will not only help end the water crisis, but also transform lives giving women hope, children health and communities a future.

Meet Vimala and Grace

Meet Vimala and Grace, two of the four million people reached by WaterCredit.

Portrait of Vimala

Before, Vimala and her family spent three hours each day carrying water from a communal source. Now, thanks to a loan, the family has easy access to safe water at home, creating more time and energy for a bright future. Learn more about Vimala's story here.

Portrait of Grace

For Grace and her family in Kenya, a loan helped them install a rainwater catchment system and water tank. Grace envisioned the day when her young daughter would no longer have to walk to collect water. Now, with every rainy day, her hope turns into a beautiful reality. Watch Grace tell her story here.

The Inspiration for WaterCredit

On a visit to India in 2003, Gary White, CEO & co-founder, met a woman who was paying a loan shark 125 percent interest to buy a toilet. She was living on two dollars a day and absorbing a crushing debt for sanitation. Gary realized that this woman – and many people like her – were paying outrageous rates, up to 20 percent of their income, to address their water and sanitation needs. This was the inspiration for WaterCredit.

If the poor were paying such outrageous rates for water and sanitation, they’d certainly be willing to pay a lot less. Not just willing but, with some help, able. Gary believed that if we could provide people with small loans at reasonable rates for water connections and toilets, we would create customers and participants in solving the water crisis. This is the foundation of WaterCredit.

WaterCredit Resources

Preview of WaterCredit Overview document

WaterCredit General Overview
(Jan 2016)

Water, Sanitation and Microfinance Toolkits developed by Water.org and MicroSave

WASH Microfinance: Market Assessments, Case Studies, White Papers

Information for Financial Institutions:

Global Learning Notes