last-mile distribution for safe drinking water
Spring Health community

Spring Health joins the Business Call to Action

November 17, 2014 India – Leading India-based social enterprise Spring Health has announced plans to join the Business Call to Action. The company has pledged to provide safe drinking water to two million customers in rural India by 2017 and improve the health outcomes of more than five million people in Eastern India by 2019. Spring Health Water India Pvt Ltd is the Indian counterpart of US-headquartered Windhorse International Inc., and was founded by entrepreneur Paul Polak with Indian partner Jacob Mathew and CEO Kishan Nanavati.

With an estimated 80 percent of rural India lacking access to safe drinking water, the company has a unique model designed to provide a low-cost delivery system through a chain of safe water kiosks. To meet the needs of the rural population, Spring Health uses liquid chlorine to disinfect water at the point of distribution and sells to rural consumers at affordable prices. The company uses a motorcycle-based last-mile distribution system to deliver liquid chlorine for treating water in tanks constructed outside of existing shops in rural communities. Local shop owners share revenue with Spring Health by managing the sales and distribution to local residents.The company is working to bridge the gap in affordable water and sanitation, which many residents in the region are facing. It is also exploring plans to expand its business model once its pilot program is completed.

“Our commitment to the Business Call to Action reiterates our strong interest in supporting low-income consumers in rural India and providing access to basic hygiene and water services to meet the needs of residents who should not be impacted by the lack of clean water,” states Paul Polak, Founder of Spring Health.

To provide local residents in India with access to clean water, the company has developed a profitable and sustainable last-50-meter distribution system that reaches out to small villages. Spring Health employees are deployed by motorcycle from a central electro-chlorination plant with provisions to purify water for up to six villages each. They also provide cargo space for a whole range of other transformative products that will be included in the second phase of Spring Health’s rollout and meet critical needs, from lighting and energy to hygiene and nutrition. In the third phase, the same motorcycles will carry products made in the villages back to cities in an effort to enhance livelihoods and generate income at the village level.

“Delivery systems are an often overlooked but critical part of water access. Spring Health systems are a vital contribution to health, sanitation, and income generation,” said Suba Sivakumaran, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action.

The company has recently announced expansion plans to further meet communities’ needs in Odisha, India. In the next few months, Spring Health, which currently serves over 100,000 customers in 200 villages, will begin offering access to safe drinking water to an additional 100,000 customers across 100 new villages through funding from a US-based investor.

The Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global corporate leadership platform, with over 100 member companies that are incorporating inclusive business approaches in their operations to help advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  As innovators in this space, BCtA member companies are advancing the inclusive business agenda by creating novel business models, sharing lessons learned, and forging partnerships to improve scale and increase development impact.  The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Global Compact to meet the anti-povertyMillennium Development Goals by 2015. Companies report on progress toward commitments on an annual basis.  @bctainitiative

2 Responses to “Last-mile distribution for safe and affordable water”

  1. Andres

    Hello!
    I am curious about what the challenges have been in scaling up. Why are exactly 2 million people the goal? Is there no economies of scale that might make more affordable? Are there particular skills or needs to ensure your goals are met

    Reply
    • Mal Warwick

      Thanks for the questions. You’ll find the answers in our book, The Business Solution to Poverty. There you’ll learn, for example, that the goal is 100 million customers, not 2 million.

      Reply

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