Success Made Possible By You

A Healthy Business

iDE’s Hydrologic Social Enterprise celebrates 10 years of bringing clean water to everyday Cambodians

Imagine living in a rural village in Cambodia, miles away from the nearest road. From where do you obtain safe water to drink? You send your daughters to collect water from the local lake, pond, well, or rainwater tank, or you buy it from a local vendor who delivers it by pipe, truck, or wagon. These sources are often contaminated due to poor sanitation, unsafe storage, and fouling by animals. So you collect wood or charcoal and boil the water, spending up to 22 hours a week on this task: time that you could have better spent tending your crops, which provide for you and your family.

You sometimes wonder if the time is worth it, then remember how many people got sick and even died before everyone started boiling the water. In Cambodia alone, untreated water and poor sanitation cause an estimated 10 million cases of diarrhea and 10,000 deaths each year, mostly in rural areas among children under the age of five.

Thanks to iDE donors’ support for innovation, there is another way.
Ten years ago, iDE launched Hydrologic as a “social enterprise”: a business whose primary purpose was to give people better access to clean water. Today, we celebrate over 500,000 units sold and nearly 3,000,000 people protected from waterborne disease.

A Simple Solution

Hydrologic manufactures and sells the Super Tunsai – a safe, effective and beautiful water filter designed for the Cambodian market using local materials. The core of the filter is a porous ceramic pot, rather like a large flower pot. This is coated with silver nitrate. When the pot is filled with untreated water, the water can pass through the microscopic pores but bacteria and other particles are physically blocked. The silver kills any bacteria that manage to penetrate the ceramic. The pot fits snugly into the top of a specially designed plastic container with a lid to protect against recontamination. Lab tests show that the filter removes 99.99% of harmful bacteria.

Sold for less than $40, the filter provides 30 liters of clean water per day at a price that most Cambodians can afford. Hydrologic also offers financing for those who prefer to pay in installments.

Selling With A Purpose

Hydrologic’s sales teams use a process called “human centered sales”, which has proven effective for selling a range of transformative products and services. Salespeople start with a conversation about the problem we are trying to solve, not the product we are trying to sell. This allows them to understand and connect with customers’ concerns: safety, convenience, and savings — both time and money.

Because customers are no longer burning fuel to boil their drinking water, Hydrologic is also able to sell carbon credits to generate additional revenue to reinvest in the company’s growth and impact.

What started as an innovative idea and developed with the support of visionary donors is now a healthy business that has in turn brought better health to 3,000,000 Cambodians and counting.

Khorn Sokoen, Hydrologic, Clean Water Expert

Khorn is a 38-year-old salesperson providing for a family of six. She has been selling Hydrologic water filters for 2.5 years, making 20 to 30 sales per week. When she speaks with the villagers, they listen. She knows how to command a crowd, puts people at ease, and uses humor to connect with people. Before she joined Hydrologic, she was selling food and doing food delivery. However, this work wasn’t enough to support her family.

Working for Hydrologic makes her happy. Every day she gets to speak with lots of people in a fun environment. Despite the serious subject matter, Hydrologic sales meetings typically involve a lot of stories and laughter. She now has enough money to feed her family, pay for her children’s education, and paid off loans. She wants to make more sales and earn more income, recognizing that her success improves not only her own family’s life but her customers’ lives as well.

“Grandma I Washed My Hands”

I can do it, you can do it too!

Human Centered Design turns charity into lasting prosperity and health. iDE Cambodia’s design team recently tackled the hard challenge of promoting handwashing to counter the spread of diarrheal disease, and now COVID-19…

Already connected with rural communities through their toilet and water filter sales activities, the iDE team gathered insights from villagers, concrete ring producers, masons, and retailers. Their research showed that women and grandmothers play a huge role in educating the next generation.

Based on this insight, iDE’s Innovation Lab worked with Melon Rouge Agency to develop a marketing campaign that uses a grandmother to teach children about handwashing. “Yey Komru” is a grandmother who sets a good example for caregivers in rural Cambodia. She encourages them to teach good handwashing so children can grow up smart and have a better future. She demonstrates the practical steps along with her two superhero grandchildren, known as “Khmeng Chhlat”, or “Smart Kids”… Together, they form a powerful trio, promoting a brighter future through the simple act of washing hands.

Along with the campaign, Hydrologic, iDE’s clean water social enterprise in Cambodia, began selling handwashing kits to homes and vendors. The container comes with soap, has a tap, and is decorated with the superhero characters to remind everyone that healthy hands make smart children.

With your support, iDE’s teams continue to develop new and creative ways to boost the business of better health in challenging markets. Smart kids across Cambodia thank you!

Pandemic Pivots

Since COVID-19 emerged as a global threat, the consistent support of our donors has allowed our teams to quickly adapt and innovate to safeguard the health and welfare of our clients and communities. Here are a few examples:

In Ghana, our “Sama Sama” sanitation team set up several handwashing stations for the public and started a radio program to broadcast accurate and reliable information about the virus. Our partners made this pivot possible: Global Affairs Canada, The Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, and individual donors like you.

In Mozambique, the iDE team distributed 10-litre buckets and soap to Lead Farmers, trained them on precautionary measures, provided them with coronavirus fact sheets, and encouraged them to promote healthy practices with their families and farmers in their communities, through the Farmer Field Schools established by iDE with donor support.

In Cambodia, our design team developed a handwashing campaign starring an amazing grandmother and her superhero grandchildren. As part of the campaign, our Hydologic social enterprise is distributing handwashing kits to promote hand hygiene and education about fighting coronavirus.