Enterprise for Africa: Supporting entrepreneurship to end water poverty and food insecurity

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Pump Aid supports entrepreneurship and gives ordinary Malawians the choice to improve their own livelihoods by investing in their own water and irrigation supplies.

Our model of pump manufacture and building a network of small-scale entrepreneurs who sell pumps and other services allows us to reach deep into rural areas, offering choice, convenience and reliability for even isolated communities, leaving no one behind.

We are now scaling up after a successful and innovative pilot project.

Pump Aid ends water poverty and food insecurity and supports health and opportunities by promoting entrepreneurship, distribution and choice

Project description

What problem are you trying to solve?
Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations: more than half the population live in poverty and more than a third are food insecure.

Malawians wishing to overcome water poverty and food insecurity face multiple stubborn challenges:

  • Unreliable water supplies: Around 40% of community pumps in Malawi are not reliable or adequately functional to meet the day-to-day needs of users. This means millions are forced to use unsafe water.
  • Poor farming yields and limited use of irrigation: Most of the population are rural, subsistence farmers yet only 11% of small-scale farmers use irrigation, leaving them vulnerable to unreliable rainfall.
  • Limited household water supplies: millions walk over 30 minutes to reach clean water, but this is hardly convenient so limits use for consumption and hygiene purposes.

Moreover, a lack of skills and choices and a long history of externally driven interventions have encouraged a pervasive culture of aid dependency. We are putting an end to this.

What is your solution to this problem?
Our solution radically increases access to water for people in rural Malawi by focusing on commercial principles and distribution.

We harness the drive of entrepreneurs and provide choices which enable ordinary Malawians to move out of poverty.

We do this by promoting self-investment by users and reach them by developing a network of small-scale entrepreneurs who sell a range of water-related products (including pumps) and services. The entrepreneurs have a huge social impact as they tackle the root problems of water poverty and food insecurity by focusing on specific markets: access for individual and groups of households, the reliability of community pumps and irrigation for small-scale farmers.

This enables people to make incremental investments in basic-needs solutions that contribute to health, wealth and food security.

We leave no one behind and work with partners to bring prosperity and opportunities to the poorest people in small, rural and isolated communities.

What is your latest update on your innovation?
We are building on a successful pilot project in which we supported 25 entrepreneurs who brought sustainable access to safe water to nearly 22,000 people within a year of trading.

We have funding from the UK’s department for international development to scale up into a second District in Malawi, but our ambitions don’t stop there.

We are seeking more funding and support to prepare markets for an accelerated expansion into more Districts and into neighbouring countries. We will do this seeking grant and venture capital to enable us to further develop our distribution channels with new and existing partners to ensure essential water and irrigation products reach even more people in rural communities.

Our impact to-date and innovation are being recognised: we won the International Aid and Development Award at the 2017 UK Charity Awards and were finalists in the 2017 AidEx Innovation Challenge, 2018 Bond Innovation Award and 2018 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards.


Duncan Marsh

Patrick Luong


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