The social enterprise will help the rural youth earn an extra income and, at the same time, provide clean drinking water to the villagers. It will just require Rs. 99, 000 as initial investment and can help one family earn a profit of about Rs. 30,000.
In India, about three million people die every year due to the consumption of unsafe drinking water. And about 20 crore people under the age of 35 are unemployed. Is there a point where these two problems intersect and a solution can be found?
Smaat India Pvt. Ltd., an organization providing clean drinking water solutions at affordable prices to marginalized communities, thinks it can help solve both issues to some extent.
All that is needed is 300 sq. ft. of space and Rs. 99,000 to start a social enterprise that can not only solve India’s clean drinking water problem but also enable unemployed youth in villages to become changemakers.
Smaat India Pvt. Ltd. is the brainchild of Karunakara Reddy, who says: “We have been into community based development activities for quite some time now and are looking to cover a larger number of people through a low-cost and viable model. In our country, women and children spend more than 175 million work hours collecting water every day. We want to make water more accessible. Anyone can make a difference and we can help empower one person to support the entire community.”
The model would require an aspiring entrepreneur to have a 300 sq. ft. of space, with enough raw water to install Smaat’s high-quality and certified water purification plants.
The affordable technology called the Water ATM takes only a few minutes to convert unclean water into safe drinking water. It can produce 3,000 litres of clean drinking water in just one day and has a life span of around 10 years. The plant requires 2 units of electricity to generate 1,000 litres of clean water.
These water purifications machines are operated by electronic cards and can purify up to 2,000 litres of water in a day. This water would be enough to serve a small community of 150 to 250 families every day.
This initiative requires a one-time investment of just Rs. 99,000 to buy the machines.
The machines, which cost around Rs. 3 lakhs in the market, are provided by Smaat at subsidized rates. The remaining money is repaid by the entrepreneur over a period of 10-15 years, using the profit earned form the enterprise. The entrepreneurs will have to pay 20 percent back to Smaat India on every litre sold as a return on investment.
Smaat team will also provide repairs and maintenance of the units for 15 years which includes repairs, replacement of filters, pumps, motors, chemical membranes, etc.
“We wanted to simplify the process. Those who wanted to be entrepreneurs didn’t know how to be one. We provide them required guidance and support,” says Reddy.
To find the right and suitable entrepreneurs, Smaat spreads the word and publicizes the model and shortlists eligible entrepreneurs from the applications received. The shortlisted applicants are then given a week long training and after that a final list of selected candidates is released who are then given the opportunity to set up the enterprise.
300 people from various locations across India have already set up such enterprises and the response has been phenomenal.
One of the enterprises in Karnataka earned Rs. 90,000 in just the first month of its operations and, on an average, every entrepreneur can easily earn a net profit of Rs. 30,000 – Rs. 35,000 monthly.
The cheap rate at which the water is available is yet another reason for the success of this model. Villagers can get access to clean drinking water at a price ranging from 50 paisa to Re. 1.
The model is very effective in cases where people in rural India don’t want to migrate due to various reasons and do not have many resources to start their own business.
From self-reliability in the communities to growth in terms of employment & GDP, reduction of dependency on other states and providing an opportunity to earn a better living to the unemployed youth of India, 99K Enterprise seems like a feasible solution to many rural and urban slum issues.
Though the model has seen a successful start, it is a challenge to connect and spread awareness in the community.
“Most of the people do not think of business beyond a kiraana store. To help them adopt the technology and make them understand its scope is a task,” says Reddy.
There are many kiraana or mobile repair shops in the village but hardly any water vending machines. The unique business idea will not only give an opportunity to earn extra income, which the villagers can do simultaneously along with other businesses or jobs as it does not require much effort, but also make access to clean drinking water easy which is a most crucial need in rural India.
Along with rural areas, the model will be replicated in urban slums with a substantial population.
Related Read: The Technology That Is Providing Clean Drinking Water To Indian Villages In Just 20 Paise
The goal of Smaat India team is to create 1 million such social enterprises by 2020 and address many more issues in line with Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Skill India, Empowering Women, Safe Drinking Water, Family Mapping, Promoting Renewable Energy, Cleaning Septic Tanks & Drains, and other similar concepts.
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