Ecofiltro aims to solve the acute and growing water crisis in developing countries in an efficient and sustainable manner. By selling water filters at an affordable price, Ecofiltro is addressing the urgent need for clean drinking water.
Focus: Clean Water, Health
Geographic Area of Impact: Guatemala
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 500,000
Annual Budget: US$ 1,100,000
Percentage Earned Revenue: 95%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Central America, 2011
According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion people in the world lack access to a safe water source. UNICEF, in its 2008 Annual Report, stated that 1.8 million people die each year from water-related intestinal infections, most of them children under the age of five. In Guatemala, where Ecofiltro is based, 90% of water sources are contaminated. Serious water contamination around the world has led to an endless search for a way to purify water. Although several methods exist, such as boiling, chlorinating and drinking bottled water, many of these solutions are not culturally acceptable or environmentally friendly.
Innovation and Activities
Ecofiltro is the invention of Dr Fernando Mazariegos, a Guatemalan scientist who developed the filter while working under a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank. After thoroughly testing hundreds of prototypes, the Ecofiltro was born.
Ecofiltro is manufactured from locally sourced materials like clay, sawdust and colloidal silver, a natural antibacterial. With its controlled pore size, the Ecofiltro allows water to pass, but traps bacteria, parasitic cysts and faecal residues. It also eliminates smell and colour, and keeps the water refreshingly cool. The Ecofiltro is easy to use: the user simply pours water from any source into the filter, and at a rate of one to two litres per hour, the water is purified. The Ecofiltro can filter more than 22 gallons a week, making it ideal for families, clinics and schools. The Ecofiltro has been studied by several prestigious universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and found to be effective. Field studies with 1,000 families have also confirmed that using the Ecofiltro can lower the incidence of gastrointestinal disease by 50%.
In order to achieve sustainability, Ecofiltro applies business principles to the manufacturing process to ensure quality control and efficiency. The filters are sold to paying customers, and Ecofiltro then applies the proceeds from these sales to lower the price of the filters for lower income populations.
Philip Wilson was born in Guatemala and studied at the Wharton School of Business in the United States. He has successfully led businesses in both countries and firmly believes that the world’s most pressing problems can be solved by applying business practices to social needs. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ecofiltro and the founder and CEO of Solucionweb, a leading Web services company in Guatemala. Wilson was recently named a Fellow of the Unreasonable Institute, and the Guatemalan Managers Association named him the Manager of the Year in 2011.
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