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Majik Water

Empowering communities with a renewable source of clean, safe drinking water from air.

Photo of Clare Sewell

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Majik Water creates clean drinking water from air in arid areas. This addresses two problems; 1) contaminated water, 844m people do not have access to clean water today; 2) the rapidly growing problem of water scarcity, UN estimates that 1.8bn people will be living in water scarcity in 2025. Our solution addresses the gap by offering a low-cost source of clean, reliable drinking water for people living off-grid in arid and semi-arid areas. We do this by harvesting drinking water from air. We have a proof of concept device which uses desiccant materials to adsorb water from air and is powered by solar for off-grid locations. This generates 10 litres of clean water in 24 hours in 55% relative humidity at a cost of 5 cents per litre. We are currently prototyping our next iteration machine which will generate more water (100s of litres) at a much lower cost per litre (under 1 cent per litre). Our plan is to sell the clean water generated by our machine using a pay per litre model. The impact from our product is that people will be able to access clean, safe drinking water in a low cost way regardless of where they live and the reliability of their existing water sources (e.g. as rivers, wells and boreholes dry up). While we are perfecting our technology and prototype we are starting a water sales pilot to prove low income Kenyans are willing to pay for clean drinking water. Some potential technology investors worry that less affluent consumers will not pay for drinking water, so we are partnering with a children's home on the outskirts of Nairobi to start selling clean water to a) test the market and prove people will pay and b) create employment opportunities for some young adults who are on the cusp of leaving the children's home.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

For our pilot our beneficiaries are the 80k inhabitants of Soweto village within Kayole, Nairobi. Long term our beneficiaries are families living in water scarce, arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya (and eventually beyond). We will serve two distinct beneficiary segments. Segment 1 is rural people living in arid and semi-arid areas who are at the base of the pyramid in terms of income. We will work with local NGOs or government to install our device in these communities, people will bring their own water containers to a smart tap, pay for the amount of water they want using mobile money and then the machine will dispense it. Segment 2 is more affluent people living in arid and semi-arid peri-urban areas in Kenya. We will create our own branded water bottling stores where we we install a number of our machines to generate c.1,000 litres+ of water per day and then bottle that water in reusable branded water bottles. This water will be sold for less than bottled water today.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are introducing a new water resource in Kenya. We are generating clean drinking water from air using solar energy. Devices which generate water from air already exist in more affluent countries such as the USA. These devices use a condensation coil to get water from air. Wet air is passed through the condensation coil and the water is condensed and collected. This works best in very high humidity, the machines cost £1,000s and use a lot of energy to cool, especially in higher temperature locations. This means it is both too expensive and not very effective in dry, hot Kenya. With our technique the desiccant materials have high affinity for water molecules and they adsorb them, this technique allows us to use the device in low humidity regions and create a device which works using abundant solar power.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Majik Water creates clean water from air in arid areas.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Our CEO Beth suffered from water borne diseases whilst in university and was driven to start her own water filtration social enterprise that distributed over 5,000 filters in low income communities in Kenya. However, in 2017 filter sales dropped as Kenya suffered acute drought and she started looking realising water scarcity was a big and growing issue. The 3 co-founders met on a scholarship course at Singularity University and bonded over a determination to create solutions for this issue.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

For Planet, increasing drought is becoming a regular reality across Kenya as climate change impacts traditional rainfall patterns, so mitigation solutions are needed. For Prosperity, Kenya has historically been a low income country reliant on farming, but recently its service and industry sectors have been driving economic growth. This has led to real gains in income per capita as a whole, but has also driven urbanisation and rural poverty in areas like Kayole. Employment opportunities can be difficult to access in these areas, and basic water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure is often missing. In the long-term Peace will also be influenced by our project; already there are stories of water driven conflict in Northern parts of Kenya and whole communities being forced to migrate in a search for water, this is an issue that is predicted to get worse in Kenya and beyond. We believe that our solution will offer a safety mechanism against this.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We are late stage discussions with a children's home in Soweto, Kayole called the Good Samaritan to run a water sales pilot. This home has been operating for over 10 years and has an attached engineering shop to provide income, employment opportunities for older children's home leavers and engineering services for the children's home. Majik Water engaged this engineering shop to help build our prototype and realised we had a shared commitment to address water problems in Kenya and also the degree of water problems today in Soweto. Currently the children in the home have to walk over 1km a day to provide their own water for drinking and washing as there is no source in the home, so the engineering firm raised funds to install a deep borehole and water purification system. We realised there was a perfect opportunity to work together to start a water sales business,to provide clean water, create employment opportunities for more children's home leavers and to test Majik Water's pricing

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

There are over 800,000 people living in Kayole so all human strengths are represented in this diverse community. Taking a more focused look our partner organisation has already identified 10 young people who grew up in the children's home (5 still living in the home, 5 who live locally; 6 men, 4 women; 8 in further education) and who are looking for income opportunities as they transition to supporting themselves, they will be our initial employees. Additionally our partner is well respected.

Geographic Focus

The sales pilot targets Kayole, a Nairobi slum. Majik Water technology targets arid areas of Kenya.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Within 4 months we will started our pilot water sales in Soweto with the Good Samaritan children's home. The borehole already exists, and the water filtering and tanks are in place, all that remains is to receive the bottling equipment, achieve KEBs certification to sell water and start training the 10 initial employees. For the longer term water from air prototype our next iteration will be complete in 1 month, and our ready to manufacture design will be ready to pilot in 12 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Louise

Great project for one of the most important challenges of the future. Would love to visit one of the project sites in the future!

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