Addressing The Global Water Crisis Through Social Enterprise
If there is anything I have realized working in both food and water security in developing countries it is that there are many many players involved in creating true change capable of making a long-lasting, sustainable impact.
That could be through an international humanitarian aid organization, through a local community NGO, an incredible community based health worker, or even a local congregation or business. There are many ways that people, businesses, non-profits, educational institutions etc., can help to create change within the system...the goal is that they do so collectively to create the longest lasting impact.
Most importantly, the best progress and program are those which work to empower individuals to create change within their own communities. This could be through educational programs, technical training, micro-finance loans, etc. but when it comes down to it the best non-profits, and humanitarian programs will always be focused on support in-country initatives that empower the people on the ground to take control of their own environment, because the goal shouldn't be for communities to forever depend on humanitarian aid organizations, nor do they want to. The goal should be to enable and empower people and communities to create change and support themselves.
Which is why I really love looking at how businesses and other social enterprises can quite literally use their businesses for good, but creating and empowering change throughout their entire business model and supply chain. So for the purpose of this post though I want to address how social enterprises and other for-profit businesses are working to address the global water crisis through various social impact programs, associated foundations, and my favorite way partnerships.
how social enterprises can use their business for good
A social enterprise really is any organization that has a strong social impact driven purpose at the root of its mission. This could be a law agency, a food company, a textile company, a tech company, a financial institution, etc.
The best part of social enterprises is that they have the capacity to both educate and impact consumers, while also impacting the entire supply chain. While it may not be easy to ensure the ethical and environmental standards are upheld throughout an entire global supply chain, it is possible, and so many companies are proving that business can truly be used as a source for good.
The Water Box is limited edition box, and an initiative working to bring clean water to those in need in sub-Saharan Africa through the NGO Blood Water Mission (based in Nashville). The campaign is working in partnership with a few other amazing mission-driven organizations: Numi, Sevenly, The Created Co., and Generosity Water and of course I couldn't have been more excited to offer my support as well!
What I loved about The Water Box when I first received it was that it was filled with items that were truly useful and that I am confident I will (and already have) use in my daily life. The box was also the perfect example of how many businesses can collectively come together to create a bigger impact around one issue they all separately are passionate about and working on.
As we are nearing world-water day on March 22nd, I think The Water Box is a great way to help us be more interactive in understanding the implications of the global water crisis, and is a great opportunity to think more about how we use water in our own lives, and what we can do to help improve the water crisis world wide.
what is the global water crisis
Let's talk about some stats shall we?
today 1.8 billion people only have access to a source of drinking water that has been contaminated, putting them at risk for life-threatening diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.
For reference that is about one-quarter of the entire world population.
Another 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services such as toilets and latrines.
When we are talking about the water crisis we are equally talking about sanitation because issues associated with sanitation are directly impacting and contaminating the water supply of many communities in need.
In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals included a target to work towards enabling that everyone has access to safe water by 2030.
Because the reality is that a water crisis is also a health crisis, making water a key part in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.
Women are disproportionately affected by the water crisis, as women are the ones who are primarily responsible for collecting and storing water for their families.
Many women around the world spend up to eight hours per day collecting water. This takes time away from education and work, which in many ways is a significant part of what keeps women in the cycle of poverty and inequality in the developing world.
what you can do to help
Like always, information like this can only go so far if you don't know what tangible ways you can help on a day-to-day basis. Since most likely your job doesn't entail working towards ending the global water crisis, here are some of my favorite ways that you personally can help positively impact this issue, as little or as much as you feel possible.
This is an obvious one, but my best advise when it comes to donating is to choose one or two organizations every year that you really really believe in and choose to support them. A few of my favorite organizations who are working to address issues associated with clean water, some of whom I have worked for are:
The Malawi Children's Mission - I personally worked with this organization and literally every dollar possible is going to these kids!
Healing Waters - One of my favorite non-profits out there with an incredible team behind them!
Charity Water - They are funded 100% by private donors which helps bring 100% of your donations to people in need of clean water, and clean water programs.
host an event/share information
But what if you are someone who already gives to other charities you believe in and doesn't feel that you can give anymore, or maybe you don't have the capacity to give this year. What can you do? Honestly one of the best things you can do is just talk to people about this issue. Share some
Some fun ideas could be:
Host a dinner party dedicated to spreading awareness about the global water crisis. Maybe print out some statistics to post around your home where people will be getting drinks or food, or in the bathroom! Ask everyone if they could contribute anything they feel they can to the night...maybe its money you can then donate to a charity, or maybe its just them telling other people about the night and replicating it. This impact truly could be huge...okay now I want to host one...who wants to come?
Host a documentary watching night, where you and some friends/family all decide to watch a documentary together and then talk about it after. Some great documentaries on water are: Thirst, and Flow are both great options
support social impact driven businesses
Each and every person is a consumer in one way or another. Either a consumer of food, water, clothes, home decor...you name it we pay for it and bring it into our homes/lives/bodies meaning we consume it. This is why consumers have so much power to use there consumption practices for good, and to choose to support one business over another because of the social impact they are working to make.
All of these companies below would be amazing companies to support when it comes to helping addressing the global water crisis, as through your support they can work to continue to expand their efforts working with local communities where change is possible with a little support and empowerment.
As always opinions in this post were 100% my own, and if I am ever compensated (which I was not for this post but I did receive a water box) it will be made clear that the post has been sponsored.