Wello WaterWheel: delivering clean water to a thirsty world
Cynthia Koenig ( MS, 06 MBA, 11 )
Founder and CEO, Wello
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Cynthia’s interests lie at the intersection of business, innovation and impact. She is the founder of Wello, an award winning social venture that co-creates disruptive innovations designed to provide better, more reliable access to basic needs, like water. There is an incredible need for Wello’s products: over 1 billion people worldwide lack reliable access to safe water. Overwhelmingly, the task of water collection falls to women, who spend roughly 25% of their day collecting water in containers that can hold 20 liters, or 44 pounds, of water.
In response to these statistics, Koenig and the Wello team co-created the WaterWheel with consumers in rural India. The WaterWheel is an affordable 45-liter rolling plastic drum outfitted with a handle. Koenig estimates that WaterWheel users spend half as much time collecting water each day than they would otherwise.
“Given better, more reliable access to water, women have more time for other tasks [and] girls are more likely to attend school,” Koenig explains.
Beyond improving efficiency, the WaterWheel is a public health triumph: it removes the load of heavy water containers from women’s necks and backs and provides more water for preventative practices such as handwashing.
The WaterWheel sold out in its first production run, and its popularity continues to climb. As of 2016, over 10,000 WaterWheels are in daily use across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malawi, Kenya, and Zambia. Koenig’s vision for the future involves scaling to other world regions, and she intends to introduce a water purification product in the near future.