The Caterpillar Foundation and Water.org recently launched a $3 million partnership to promote water and sanitation services in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Water.org’s business model involves partnering with microfinance institutions to provide loans to low-income customers in order to build critical water infrastructure such as wells or community bathrooms. The Caterpillar Foundation more broadly promotes sustainable solutions for basic human needs. The partnership will enable Water.org to partner with new microfinance institutions, mobilize over $30 million from investors over the next five years, and provide access to clean water / sanitation for over 1 million Indians within that same time period.
Afflicted communities across the globe often live without access to affordable sanitation and clean water.
In an effort to provide affordable clean water and sanitation for communities in places such as Karnataka, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu, Caterpillar Foundation and Water.org Nov. 29 announced a $3 million partnership effective for the next three years.
Water.org’s WaterCredit program seeks to enhance lives by helping communities obtain clean water and sanitation. A huge part of the program consists of facilitating loans and communicating with microfinance institutions which will then provide reusable and affordable loans to communities in India and beyond. Since June 2011, WaterCredit has provided assistance to more than 316,000 individuals in four countries.
“Currently, WaterCredit is in India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda. We also have 23 WaterCredit microfinance institution partners,” said Water.org senior communications and development manager Nicole Wickenhauser.
“We are very excited about the partnership with Water.org primarily because of the fantastic work that Water.org does to help people in poverty and in very needy parts of the world. It also fits closely with our mission,” Caterpillar corporate public affairs director Jim Baumgartner told India-West.
Baumgartner felt inspired to take Caterpillar’s philanthropic efforts to the next level after perusing through an article in Fast Company magazine. The article described actor Matt Damon and his active involvement to increase access to water and sanitation in poverty-stricken areas with Water.org.
“I read about how Damon became involved with investment in clean water primarily in countries such as Africa and India, and realized that it was very similar to the types of philanthropic investments that we make as a foundation in other parts of the world, so that’s where the inspiration came from,” said Baumgartner.
“The WaterCredit model…enables microfinancing to individuals and communities. Loans might be equivalent to 50 or 100 dollars in order to drill wells or build community bathrooms. The business element is to get these individuals out of poverty,” he added.
The Caterpillar Foundation pushes for philanthropic and sustainable efforts in countries throughout the world. The main goal is to provide individuals with access to basic human needs including education. The Foundation has also helped victims of disasters while developing innovative ways to protect the environment and spread the sustainability message to communities across the globe. The Foundation also recently invested in projects with CHF International to educate and encourage recycling and sustainability in Bangalore, India.
“With water access, so much time and money can be saved. More time can be dedicated to other things such as education, and starting a business,” said Caterpillar Foundation representative Ben Lambert.
“Simply put, thousands of Indians living in poverty demonstrated that they are not only willing to take out loans for water and sanitation improvements, but that they are also able to repay those loans,” said Water.org senior manager of international programs Heather Arney.
Water.org also partnered with PepsiCo Foundation in 2008 which has enabled the non-profit to continue to facilitate loans for communities.
Over the next five years, Water.org hopes to bring on board several new Indian microfinance institutions and mobilize over $30 million from investors for microloans. The organization also hopes to provide access to clean water and/or sanitation for over one million individuals in India, according to Arney.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’ve been able to help more than 374,000 people in India obtain access to clean water and the dignity of a toilet.”