Delivering affordable household water treatment solutions using a business model

Aqua Clara Kenya incorporates a business model, carbon credits and loans to ensure that low-income households have access to safe water.

Photo of John Nyagwencha
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Aqua Clara Kenya

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50,000 - 100,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Nairobi Counties


Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Many Kenyans are drinking unsafe water and don’t have adequate access to environmentally sustainable Household Water Treatment (HWT) solutions. Charities, who distribute most HWT solutions in Kenya, are having problems disseminating HWT and ensuring correct, continued and consistent use, including problems with financial sustainability. Market-based approaches are few and have failed to provide HWT products at affordable costs or to conduct adequate follow up and customer support.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

ACK implements a business model, which involves local people to produce, distribute and monitor Household Water Treatment (HWT) products in Kenya. A Community Development Entrepreneur (CDE), selected and trained by ACK, sells these products while a Community Health Promoter (CHP) conducts follow-up on all products sold. ACK partners with Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) that provide a platform in their meetings for CDEs to promote products to their members. SACCOs provide loans for interested members to acquire these products and repay in 6-12 months. ACK has developed a financial approach that incorporates carbon credits, loans and local materials to ensure that products are affordable whilst remaining effective. For, instance, ACK uses local plastic containers to manufacture biosand filters, allowing us to sell at $20, less than half what other implementers in Kenya sell them for.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Aqua Clara Kenya (ACK) is an established producer and distributor of HWT solutions in Kenya. Entrepreneurs trained by ACK have sold and installed over 7,000 water filters, providing safe drinking water to over 50,000 people. There has been reported reduction in water borne diseases in areas we operate. This can be attributed to the effectiveness of the filters and the fact that customers receive training and ongoing support to use and maintain these products correctly. Because most customers previously used wood fuels to boil drinking water, the use of water filters has seen a reported reduction in indoor air pollution which is a major cause of respiratory illnesses. Additionally, there has been a reduction in deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions. ACK receives carbon credits annually for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide which causes global warming. ACK is approaching financial sustainability whilst still able to use a business model and provide solutions to low income homes.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

ACK’s household water treatment program is predominantly market based and expects to achieve full cost recovery at scale in 3 years time. Aqua Clara International (ACI) headquarters in the USA currently provides funding which helps cover salaries for 11 staff members while profits cover our stock and operational costs. The program also benefits from carbon credits which allows ACK to adequately monitor the use of our products by our customers. Funding from ACI and other grants amounts to 50%, earned income 30% and Carbon Credits 20%. ACK will leverage Nestle funds to scale and build a network of SACCOs, CDEs and CHPs with the capacity to assemble, sell, monitor and support low-income households to use HWT solutions correctly, consistently and continuously.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

ACK, is not aware of any other organisation in Kenya providing both a market-based model and actively working to develop local supply chains for HWT products and services. The project ensures (1) availability of appropriate, affordable and sustainable Household Water Treatment (HWT) solutions that can be accessed by those most in-need, and (2) local populations have the knowledge and skills to correctly use and maintain these solutions.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Although Aqua Clara Kenya has been in existence since 2009, the current SACCO-based model is recent Products were initially promoted through community meetings and churches. Although there was huge demand for these products, many people could not afford to pay for them in one instalment. It was also difficult to get enough time in most of these meetings to promote products. Another challenge was getting the right CDEs. In 2015, Aqua Clara Kenya's CEO John Nyagwencha was introduced to a small SACCO operating in Kericho County. The SACCO approach instantly appeared as the solution to the challenges Aqua Clara was facing. SACCOs provided credit to their members to acquire products, provided a platform to promote products during meetings and helped select their best members to serve as CDEs. ACK is currently using the SACCO model to scale and reach more people in other counties .

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:


idea is good and promising. Only concern is the quality of filters. Do they clean all kind of contaminants? How do you make sure and how frequently you have to wash it

Photo of John Nyagwencha

Hi Rajiv, thank you for your comment and questions. Aqua Clara water filters use hollow fibre membrane technology, which has pores small enough to remove 99.999% of bacteria and parasites. Since bacteria and parasites account for a vast majority of water borne diseases in Kenya, households using our filters have reported a drastic improvement in their health. The governemnt's standardisation authority KEBS has tested our filters and approved them for distribution as they meet and exceed all their drinking water requirements. We also carry out 100% follow up on all filters sold to ensure that customers know how to use and maintain their filters correctly. Finally, each year we test 10% of all filters with results indicating that over 90% of the filters remain in active use beyond the first 12 months.