The Business Of Giving Water

Recently I read an article about startups and the author asked, “What’s your business?” I started thinking about Ten for 10’s “business.” My initial thought was that we were in the business of giving water. But it’s so much more than that, because WATER not only serves its intended purpose, but leads to bigger and better things. Water gives life and changes life. It allows kids to concentrate on school work, go to university and have big bright futures. Water transforms a nation and its people in an organic way. It leads to local job creation in the form of water sellers, operators and technicians, and provides great equality for women. Water is a game changer.

If we were a for-profit company, our business model would look completely different. Our goal would be to gain entry into Rwanda for the purpose of building water systems that might use a friend’s company for the rain barrels, a business contact for stones and a big manufacturer of PVC pipe, spigots and transformers to help deliver water to communities. We would collectively strategize how to make the most money off of these projects through government contracts, tax benefits and collection of fees. And the local people would most likely be left out of the conversation and the opportunity to be involved in the process. It would be a typical case of profit over people.

Instead YOU, our supporters, are proving that people matter more than profits. YOU are the ones changing the world through your donations, volunteerism and support of Ten for 10. Are we in the business of giving water? Absolutely! But, with your help, we’re also in the business of nation building, future building and people building…one drop at a time.  


In 20 years I predict the economic landscape of Rwanda will look vastly different. And it will have all started with Water Warriors like you and the “Business of Giving Water.”

A Day Without Water

Imagine getting up tomorrow and going to the kitchen sink for a glass of water...only nothing comes out. You shuffle to the bathroom sink thinking, "There must be something wrong with the faucet," but no water is flowing there either. After trying all of the taps in your home, you realize YOU DON'T HAVE WATER! What would you do? Call the water company?! You don't have a water company.  Go to the store? Stores don't carry clean water.

But you have to shower. You have to go to work. By 5pm your toilet is backed up and creating a health hazard for your family, no one has showered, you have dirty dishes in the sink that are attracting bugs and 5 loads of laundry are waiting to be done. Oh and you haven't gone to work yet because you've had to walk to the local lake for water. You've boiled it but still aren't sure it's safe to use. What would you do? Would you drink it? You would if that's all you had...and that's exactly the situation many Rwandans are in. 

Study after study shows that access to clean water increases health, provides better sanitation & allows kids to go to school instead of spending 1/2 their day collecting water. Water is such a primary need that everything you do depends on it.

Those of us who have, and have always had, easy access to water can't fathom what it's like to go without. But that's exactly what 1 in 6 people face EVERY day. On average, women and children spend 4 hours a day collecting water to clean, bathe, drink, cook and grow food. Many times from contaminated streams and water sources.

With YOUR help we're changing that! Due to your generosity, clean water, better restroom facilities and education as to why hand washing can prevent the spread of disease is happening in communities throughout Rwanda. Thank you for helping us give the gift that truly keeps on giving: WATER.

              Visit our "Donate" page to find out how to give clean H2O!

Kids, Sanitation & Education

Part of the 2011 Kicukiro Water Project was the installation of 10 Eco-San toilets, hand washing stands & rain barrel systems at the Gahanga School Complex. 3,256 primary & secondary students benefit from having access to water, safe bathrooms & learning how hand washing can be a life-saver!

We pull up and the kids immediately run to the truck. In fact, even the kids playing soccer leave the field to welcome us. They are beautiful, smart and kind. I'm overwhelmed by the love we feel...and they really don't even know the part we played in the water project. 

It doesn't matter where you are, kids are pretty much the same: They want to learn, play and feel secure. But these kids have to deal with a much harsher reality when basic necessities, such as water, are lacking. Or they don't feel safe going to the bathroom. 

Evelyn is in P-6 (or 6th grade.) When asked how she liked the new latrines she said, "There were demons in the old ones." We didn't know what she meant. Then we learned that during the Genocide of 1994 people were routinely thrown down latrines and left to die. We suspect these old facilities might have been used for this purpose. Another girl told us the old ones "smelled" and she didn't like going into them. But they both LOVE the new bathrooms and had a huge smile when talking about how much better they were. 

While our primary mission is to increase access to clean water, proper latrines are important as well, particularly for young girls. Having a safe environment when girls feel especially vulnerable and exposed can be the difference between them coming to school or staying home. And studies show that education makes a huge difference in not only the success of people, but in the future of a country. After all, these are the leaders of tomorrow's Rwanda, and with us being such an interconnected world it matters to ALL of us!

Our First Site Visit!

Day 2 Cont-

Our first site visit is a 2011 water project in a Settlement for Widows and Orphans of the Genocide. The community was established by the Rwandan government as part of a reparation and compensation plan to help bring about healing after this 1994 tragedy. While the “orphans” are now grown, they can still live on the land. Located in the Kicukiro district, this is considered a peri-urban area but still about an hour and a half outside of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and really the only large city in the country. (Due to the conditions and lack of available resources, most areas outside of Kigali would be considered rural to the majority of Americans.) 

As we pull up we are greeted by the local water seller, Jeanne. (Each water project has a water seller elected by the community to ensure that water is distributed fairly. Over 50% are female, which is a huge economic gain and game changer for these women as they are now part of the water conversation and have control over this essential resource.) She introduces us to the people and shows us the water taps serving the 58 families that live in this village. 

Part of the water project includes a water tap stand used to supply drinking water and rain barrel systems located throughout the village. It's amazing what water has done here in such a short time! They grow crops for use by their families with some farms yielding enough to trade/sell at the local market. Livestock such as cows, goats and chickens can be maintained and kept healthier due to a consistent source of clean, easily accessible water. And more children are attending school and looking forward to bright and prosperous futures instead of hauling water. 

For example, we met Jeanne’s granddaughter, Kevine. She is 10 years old and goes to P-6 (or 6th grade) at the local school. When asked what she wanted do when she grew up she said, “I want to be a Doctor or the Minister of Education.” I commented that I’m impressed with her ambitious goals. When asked what made her want to pursue these occupations. Kevine said she wants to help people. And that she has seen how water changed her grandmother’s, and therefore her family’s, lives: Jeanne has her own chickens, latrine, water spout and crops, and runs a village store out of a structure in her backyard. Jeanne has created numerous successful businesses as a result of clean water and investing her resources wisely. Kevine said her grandmother is a role model, and Kevine KNOWS women can obtain a good education and make a difference. 

It’s truly amazing what ONE year of clean water has done!!

Good Luck to you Kevine. We’ll be watching you and expecting great things.

Meet our Water Partner

Day 2-

It's Day 2 and we're off to an orientation with our local water partner, Water for People-Rwanda, here in Kigali. The staff is warm and welcoming. While small in number, only 8 people, they have the huge task of overseeing all of the water projects Kicukiro and Rulindo Districts of Rwanda. Each staff member is very knowledgeable and excited to show us what has been accomplished. Also, they aren't afraid to tell us of the challenges they face...which I appreciate.  

For instance, we've been asked to help provide EVERY person in Kicukiro and Rulindo with access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation FOREVER. And for implementation to be complete by 2017. It's ambitious, but we think it can be done. We asked what the biggest challenge of this initiative would be. The local staff said, "The "forever" part is easy. It's the "everyone" that's problematic due to the topography of the land."  

The terrain is a logistical challenge. Rwanda is nicknamed "The land of a thousand hills." And Rulindo is proof of that. (In fact, after a 3 hour drive to one of the sites I was convinced it was home to ALL 1,000 hills.) 

Rulindo redefines "rural area". With its' extremely steep hills and rough terrain these people could easily be ignored. Many of the villages extend from a ridge top to the bottom of valley, making it more challenging to bring water closer to the people. In fact, we heard that our local partner, and us, have a reputation for "Going where no one will go to give water." That made me proud. We aren't forgetting about ANYONE, regardless of where they live or the added effort it takes to get there. 

Next up: A visit to one of our water projects and meeting the people of a Genocide Settlement in Kicukiro!