Max Water Social Business

Max Water Social Business is a rural community-based piped water system in south Bangladesh: Locally sourced and financially sustainable.

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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

Max Foundation/ Max Water Social Business

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Netherlands

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Bangladesh: Patukhali, Barguna, Khulna


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

This project tackles incomplete infrastructure and financially unsustainable water supply in Bangladesh (hereafter BD). Water-borne diseases, poor hygiene hold back health and development. Piped water is not broadly available in BD, often only in urban areas. Rural areas rely on tube wells, for drinking water, using less safe surface water for other domestic use. Children in households with piped water have a lower incidence of diarrhea and dysentery.

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

Max Water Social Business (MWSB) is a rural community-based piped water system in south coastal BD: locally sourced, easily maintained, with a sustainable business model. This complements Max Foundation’s phaseout strategy from areas that have become self-reliant. In Pathuakhali and Barguna districts, the current project area, water treatment is not needed. In Khulna, planned expansion area, water treatment for sodium, arsenic and iron will be needed. 21K households (HHs) will be connected to regular piped water supply, (104K people), in a target area with a total population of 310K people (66K HHs). Our mini-grid piped water scheme consists of a production pump with overhead tank and a piped network for delivering water to an average 75 houses (80 litres pp/per day). HHs will have a pipeline to their house with a connection point; from there they can connect their kitchen, bathroom and latrine with running water. They will pay a one off connection fee, invest for in-house fittings

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

We are on our way to delivering safe piped water to the homes of at least 2,000 rural, hard-to-reach poor households in Bangladesh by this December (2017), through five piped schemes each serving 300 – 500 HHs. The first three completed schemes are delivering water with almost 11,000 meters of piped infrastructure. A tank for storing water for domestic use, deep tube wells for both domestic and agricultural use, and pumphouses for irrigation have been constructed. Solar panel systems for energy generation are also in place. Some significant achievements in the scheme area are hygienic practices changes. This scheme directly helps citizens to have access to water 24x7 within their own homes. Home-access to water means that latrines are kept clean more easily, and people are exercising handwashing 5 times/day. Social impact beyond health: convenience - particularly for women and (female) children who bear the burden for fetching water, freeing time for education, livelihoods, recreation.

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

After 7 years of grants and investments, the model will become self-sustainable. We are in the process of a large grant application for the first 5 years as during the period we will need a hybrid income model, both grants and investments are then welcome. After that, the model will work without grant funding and we can attract investment funding for scale-up. Profit and loss calculation shows break-even in 5 years, but cash flow remains negative until year 8. It requires an initial investment of 4 million EUR, which includes 2.8M in subsidies, 900K private sector in-kind contributions (cash and technical assistance), and 300K cash contributions from WOs and households (users). A proposal is in development (concept approved) to the Dutch Sustainable Water Fund for 2.3M EUR.

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

With MWSB we have created a model where water will be offered to the rural poor through a social business – this is new for Bangladesh. This will help to create the system change and help to overcome the gap in reliable, safe water access. With the appropriate solution, no continued NGO or donor assistance is needed in order to maintain a high level of water and sanitation services in these communities so that Max Foundation can phase out NGO activities.

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

MWSB is the brainchild of Max Foundation (MF), an NGO founded in 2005 by Joke and Steven Le Poole, following the death of their son Max by viral infection at 8 months. Steven and Joke were determined to spare other parents such deep sorrow. MF takes an effective, business-driven approach to saving children’s lives. We envision a world in which easily preventable diseases are no longer a cause for child mortality amongst children >5. Joke, co-founder/CEO of MF, has created MWSB along with Femke Marcus, former board chair, and our BD team, because self-sustaining, market-driven models are needed to provide water to Bangladesh’s rural poor, and HHs are willing to pay. We strive to be pioneers in creating system change. Once the viability of MWSB has been shown, public and private investment in rural piped water supply can be leveraged for further scale up.

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

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

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I like the approach of providing clean piped water as usually rural water projects are family based solutions (we use this last approach in our own work in Mexico). However, piped water supplies in rural areas have an associated problem concerning the disposal of waste water from the homes. This is a huge challenge and requires investing in adequate waste water facilities (latrines don´t work if too much water is used in the homes). Waste water issues are sometimes more difficult to solve than potable water issues.

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