It is shocking that more than two billion people around the world cannot access safe drinking water. This is a fact that global consumer goods company Unilever is not prepared to accept and why, through its Pureit brand, it has already delivered 100 billion litres of safe water to more than 55 million people. But it wants to do more.
Knowing it can’t solve this problem alone, and that new disruptive approaches are needed to reach people on very low incomes, Unilever sought to develop a deeper understanding of, and partnering opportunities with, the nascent Safe Water Enterprise (SWE) sector, extending access to millions more people.
A specialist EY team that works not-for-profit to help scale social impact businesses was engaged to: identify the world’s leading SWEs; conduct detailed analysis of their business model dynamic; and translate this into insights for optimising their prospects for sustainable growth.
It is a project that identifies the leading SWEs, analyses their disparate business models and creates an innovative, disruptive metric to measure the Impact Return on Capital.
EY conducted confidential interviews and field visits with SWE management teams. The resulting analysis illustrated the huge potential to build scalable, self-sustaining SWEs and identified critical factors upon which realising that potential depend.
By shining a light on these ‘water warriors’ and offering practical guidance, EY and Unilever have not only made it easier for SWEs to plot a path to more rapid, sustainable growth, but also established a framework that can shape the long-term growth of the entire SWE sector.
Ultimately, through a better understanding of these issues, this could bring affordable safe drinking water within reach of hundreds of millions more people, significantly accelerating progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal of equitable access to safe drinking water for all by 2030.
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