Israel’s MFA (Nov 6) — Economists predict that in the next 15 years Africa’s economy will be growing at a frenzied pace, similar to India and China. Early birds have started racing into Africa to get businesses off the ground.
But what works in Europe or America –– or even in Israel — doesn’t necessarily work in Africa, especially when you are talking about Africa’s poorest people.
That is why the new Israeli company Waterways has sprung to life. The basic idea is to take the enormous innovations in water coming out of Israel and adapt them to rural areas in Africa.
There is a triple bottom line to fulfill here: people, planet and profit, according to Waterways managing director and founder Ornit Avidar, a startup success story in her own right, and a former diplomat. She has made it her new life mission to help water technologies enter African villages and stick.
Through her research she’s found that about 50 percent of all water projects in Africa’s rural regions cease within a year of implementation.
Cultural reasons, lack of upkeep funding or conflict –– there are endless reasons why “abroad” solutions don’t work in Africa.
That’s too much money going down the drain, says a pragmatic Avidar, who has developed another way.
Soft solutions, for a change?
Rather than propose the sort of large water projects found in municipalities and cities in the West, Avidar has her water compass set on providing Africa’s villagers with soft solutions — scalable, powered by little or off-grid energy, and requiring no advanced technical knowhow to maintain. Her business approach also includes economic models to help villagers make money.