Funding solutions that work

Often misunderstood are the funds needed to back the research and development behind innovations that equip a non-profit to deliver sustainable, world-changing impact. New Ventures is Water.org’s principal source of funding for that research; to develop and explore new approaches to empowering the poor through access to safe water and sanitation. These funds continue to successfully empower Water.org to reach more people, more quickly, all while decreasing our philanthropic cost per person reached. 

Through our experience and research we have found there is diversity among the base of the economic pyramid. It is through the New Ventures Fund that Water.org is able to assess regions around the world to determine a population’s potential to finance their own water taps and toilets. Once a market is identified, we work alongside financial institutions helping them add water and sanitation loans, something Water.org calls WaterCredit, to their lending portfolios. Their adoption of this loan type, along with Water.org’s support, equips these institutions to meet the demands of the identified, interested market. This is working.

While finance is not a solution for all poor, what Water.org has found is if given a choice and an opportunity to pay for water and sanitation improvements over a reasonable period of time, millions of people opt to finance long-term solutions versus struggle day-to-day to find that next liter of drinking water or defecate in the open. People like Elenita.

Elenita is proud she can now spend her days at home, sewing bags and aprons for a living. This was not always the case. 

Elenita’s home sits gracefully on a quaint street in a peri-urban neighborhood. Potted herbs and fruit trees surround her humble abode where Elenita and her husband raise their boys. While the boys are at school, she spends her days in the home sewing bags and aprons for department store distributors. Some might never believe a family like Elenita’s could lack access to safe water and a toilet, but the reality is until recently, they did.

More than 26 million Filipinos lack access to sanitary toilets, and only five percent of households are connected to sewer systems. Further, many households cannot connect to water systems due to the high, up-front connection costs. Instead, families often rely on unsafe water sources, or expensive bottled water from informal water sellers.

Because the need for water and sanitation is so high in the Philippines, Water.org conducted an assessment using funds from our New Ventures Fund. Our research demonstrated significant interest by lending institutions and communities in what we call WaterCredit. WaterCredit is the first program to put microfinance tools to work in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. 

Now included as a part of their lending portfolios, microfinance institutions across the Philippines are helping empower families by removing the financial barriers that stood between them and safe water or a toilet. Now, Elenita and her husband can take a small, affordable loan to construct needed piped water connections, filters, wells, pumps, water tanks or toilets.