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Unreasonables, Episode 16: Can Water Be Sold To Someone Who Earns Less Than $1 Per Day?

Wello’s solution to the problem of water scarcity is ingenious. It’s also too expensive for the people who need it to buy it. How can you find a way to make money while offering solutions to the world’s poorest people?

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In areas with water shortages or bad water, women are often tasked with providing water for their families. But the water is often far away, and so women end up carrying 45 pounds of water on their head. It takes time and effort and keeps women from participating in the economy in more meaningful ways.

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Cynthia Koenig’s company, Wello, makes a large water drum that can be wheeled to and from clean water. It holds five times the amount of water that a woman can carry on her head, which means fewer trips.

The issue is that Wello is expensive, or at least expensive for someone making less than $1 a day. Can Koenig find a way to provide this brilliant solution to the people who need it, while still maintaining a for-profit business model?

This is the latest video in The Unreasonables, a series tracking the participants in the most recent Unreasonable Institute. To see what’s coming up, watch a preview of the whole season and see a list of all the episodes here.

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About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Impact section, formerly FastCoExist.com. Have an idea for a story? You can reach him at mclendaniel [at] fastcompany.com

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