Worldwide over two billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. Martin Wesian, the founder of Helioz GmbH, has developed a technical solution called Wadi, which provides an affordable and efficient tool to make the process of disinfecting water simple and safe. His product was developed in cooperation with ETH-Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), based on the well-proven SODIS method.
Q. Could you please describe your product Wadi in two sentences.
A. Wadi is an inexpensive and easy to use device, which indicates the microbial reduction in water through solar disinfection and thus ensures untrained users an adequate supply of drinking water.
Q. How does your product work?
A. Just put the device on any PET bottle like a screw cap and put the bottle into the sun. Just wait. As soon as the display shows a smiley face, the water is drinkable. With its built-in solar panel, it works energy self-sufficient and totally service free for five years at least.
Q. What is the status of the development and when are you planning your “go to the market”?
A. Currently we do the final microbiological tests with several labs in Vienna, Austria. End of this year we will execute some field-testing in Brazil, India and Mozambique. Provided the results are positive, we will start the production expected at the beginning of 2011.
Q. What is your target market and how do you plan to market and distribute your product?
A. Wadi is designed to cater to BoP (Bottom-of-the-Pyramid) customers all over the world. There is a total market of 2.5 billion people without access to safe drinking water.
We have already established contact with partners and dealers in the respective countries. We are also seeking support of NGOs to build a distribution network in the informal sector through micro entrepreneurs to market and sell Wadi. So these people are able to earn their livelihood by selling our product.
We are also thinking to give big companies the opportunity to brand Wadi to use it for marketing and launch Corporate Social Responsibility programs.
Q. What is the target price for your product?
A. The price will be approximately 5 Euros per piece, that is equal to Rs 300.
Q. When can we see your innovation coming to India?
A. As soon as our field-tests are successfully completed, we will start with the roll-out of Wadi and of course, India will be one of our first markets to enter.
Q. I thought innovations for the BoP only come from emerging markets. What motivated you to start this project?
A. I was always interested in social development and traveling. During one of my journeys, I caught cholera cause by contaminated water. That’s when I started conceptualizing…
More info about Wadi: http://www.waterdisinfection.org/en/
Interviewer: Wolfgang Bergthaler
Wolfgang is the Managing Director of Maya India e.U., based in Vienna, Austria. He is a supporter of Ennovent and blogs regularly about business, innovation and (social) entrepreneurship in India at http://www.indische-wirtschaft.at