Water Desalination to fund community conservation

Our focus is sustainable water desalination in North Kenya. The system is powered by solar. Part of the revenue funds local conservation.

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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


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1mil - $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

San Francisco

Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Kionga



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

There is severe fresh water lacking in this community. Due to a lack of electrical infrastructure they don't have the power to use water desalination machines. The perpetual lack of of basic living resources causes a low quality of life, human wildlife conflict and political extremism. Conservation efforts lack any financial support due to the lack of security in the area discouraging tourism. The community needs improved infrastructure, access to water and jobs.

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

The community needs water, local conservation efforts need funding. We will make 70,000 liters of potable water a day from salt water, sell it at $.03 USD per liter, generate over $700,000 USD a year in revenue, create two local jobs, recover our investment in less than 5 years and channel more than $100,000 USD per year into community led conservation and development efforts. We also do this in a way that is carbon friendly, mitigating climate change which is likely one of the causes of the reduced water access in the region. This solution is holistic in that it benefits all parties involved: -The community gets water at a cheaper and more stable source than it currently has. -The conservancy becomes the first financially sustainable one in the area and improves community relations. -GivePower shares part of the revenue over the life of the system to recover its investment and cover its operations. This can be a model for all coastal communities worldwide.

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

In the last three years, GivePower has powered over 2000 schools in 17 countries serving over 300,000 students. We installed the first off-grid Tesla products in Africa and on Native American reservations. We provided over 500 households and 400 rangers power via solar + storage microgrids. We are currently operating 9 water desalination sites in Kenya and Puerto Rico that currently make around 2,000 gallons of water per day across all our projects. The completion of this project will increase that 10 fold, to 22,000 gallons per day at full capacity. We have over 250 kW of active off grid solar + battery systems around the world in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This project in particular can generate over 3.5 million USD in gross revenue over 5 years, while providing permanent water source to 4000 people in North Kenya. The revenue sharing with the conservation organization will fund all 12 of the local rangers in addition to 2 entirely new jobs.

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

The plan is financially sustainable on the revenue of water sales. We sell the water at a locally affordable rate. Payback is less than 5 years and cheaper than alternative local sources. The original capital, hardware and design expertise is provided by our corporate partners: Tesla, Cypress Creek Renewable and Bank of America. This plan not only covers indefinitely for the O&M of the system by generating revenue, it covers its initial investment in a reasonable period, making this commercially viable. That allows us to reinvest the capital into new systems and continue to scale the model over time. Due to the multiyear support of our corporate donors, we can pass all returns into future projects. Funding Sources: 40% individual donations/family offices 60% corporate contribution

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

No one has ever used this combination of energy efficient and robust set of technologies in conflict region, a conflict based on resource scarcity. This is one of the most modern, intelligent power systems available in the world. The water technology we use has the energy efficiencies of large scale desalination, except at much smaller scale. We have chosen a community that has particularly severe consequences around the lack of water and a deep cultural understanding of water's importance.

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

I started working in Kenya in 2008 when I was asked to install solar on schools by a Kenyan friend who had raised money writing a children's book about 9/11, called 14 Cows for America. Over the next 2 years we installed dozens of school systems, but found that alone didn't improve quality of life as much as we wanted. Over the course the following 7 years we moved toward larger and more complex systems, and thought a lot about what the systems were powering and what impact that power made in the community. In 2016 we meet with Sarara and the community conservation efforts in North Kenya. This was the missing link, a local organization with the capacity to manage and use the systems. By combining 9 years of experience in technology deployment in Kenya with an experienced local operator that manages community relations, we have the right team to do this better than has come before.

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

  • Upon recommendation from others

Attachments (1)


The original pitch deck for the project. The budget has changed from this iteration of the presentation since we have moved into the execution phase, but not substantially, and the core of the project is the same.


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