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The Business Solution to Poverty by Mal Warwick, Paul Polak

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Chapter 11

ZERO-BASED DESIGN IN PRACTICE:Safe Drinking Water for Small Villages

If you’ve been wondering whether the ambitious approach we advocate will really work in practice, read this case study about the early days of one such company as it moved beyond the pilot stage.

The reality is grim. More than a billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. Most of them live in small villages with 100 to 300 households, and existing safe-water technologies such as piped-water systems are too big and prohibitively expensive to be operated profitably in such small settlements, much less reach scattered rural households. Furthermore, where such systems exist, they’re so heavily subsidized that they’re perceived as owned by the government, ...

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