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Grad Student Creates, Markets Rural Water Conveyance Device

Cynthia Koenig (Univ. of Michigan)

Cynthia Koenig (Univ. of Michigan)

Cynthia Koenig, a business school graduate student at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, created a rolling water barrel and started an enterprise to distribute the device in developing countries. Koenig plans to pilot test the device, called the WaterWheel, in India.

The WaterWheel is a 20-gallon rolling plastic barrel that provides enough water for drinking, personal hygiene, and household cleanliness to meet the daily needs of four people in a single trip, according to United Nations guidelines. A not-for-profit enterprise called Wello, started by Koenig, will market the WaterWheel.

Finding and transporting clean water in many parts of the world is a daily struggle. One in six people in developing countries access to water means hours of walking and heavy lifting. Five gallons of water weighs 44 pounds and women and girls, often the household water carriers, stand in long lines and carry heavy water jugs on their heads up to eight miles a day.

After graduation this spring, Koenig plans to launch a pilot program in drought-prone Rajasthan, India to test the WaterWheel’s social impact and health benefits. Her goal, according to the university, is to sell 5,000 wheels in 12 months, which could affect the lives of 40,000 people. She is working with an Indian company to manufacture the wheel.

Koenig’s project is receiving recognition. On 18 February, Koenig and fellow business-school grad student Colm Fay, won $10,000 in the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Wello has also been selected as one of 45 finalists from over 300 organizations in 60 different countries to have the opportunity to attend the Unreasonable Institute, an intensive six-week boot camp in Boulder, Colorado that helps social entrepreneurs develop their ventures.

Read more: Solar Powered Water Purifier Developed for Disaster Relief

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