Refer to the document here (or attached below) for a more comprehensive description of the problem, product and solution.
In the Refinement Phase, we focused on the following aspects:
1. Prototyping the form-factors using Human centric design: The form factors we proposed in the previous stage were tested for use, and substantial design input went into creating the ladle, the bottle and the pod. Primary considerations were: Cost, Usability, Durability, Form and Function. We took care to put the user’s experience first, in developing these products, making the process least disruptive, and making sure that it fit within their existing lifestyles and practices.
2. Changing the Paani Powder to capsule-form: In our constant obsession with the least disruptive, most conducive user experience, we scrapped the 'Paani Powder sachets', favouring a water-soluble capsule form instead.
3. Channel Partners: Reaching the market at the bottom of the pyramid is diffcult, in India - this is especially true of rural households. Especially for a product such as this, that requires everyday use to see any tangible results, constant communication and engagement is key. Even for a point of sale system, Fluoride contamination is large-scale issue that required us to partner with existing organisations with infrastructure in the target geographies. In finding such an organisation, we looked at those that had: existing infrastructure, a professional management, past traction in delivering such products, a goal and vision similar to ours, and a yearning to go the extra-mile and solve as many problems (peripheral to the core issue they were countering), as possible. We zeroed in on two organisations for this purpose.
4. Manufacturers: We contacted and are in talks with PET bottle manufacturers who buy-in to our vision, to reduce the cost of manufacturing the form-factors, and a generic drug manufacturer to manufacture the Paani Tablets at scale.
We hope to evolve further through this journey...
Imagine this - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines 0.7 milligrams of Fluoride/L of drinking water as optimal. In India, the average Fluoride levels in consumed water is 5.5mg/L, with a large population consuming in excess of 8mg/L.
'Fluorosis' affects more than 66 million people in India, predominantly through excess Fluoride consumption via groundwater. Even in moderately higher than optimal levels (1-4mg/L) this causes 'Dental Fluorosis', especially among children (6-14Y): corrosion and mottling of the enamel. Dental Fluorosis has been reported in at least 14 states, with prevalence going up to 100% for the 12-15 year age group in 4-5 states.
But, at higher levels, this causes osteoporosis, and in some cases, crippling 'Skeletal Fluorosis'. Severe skeletal fluorosis has been reported in at least ten states, with nearly 90% of adults in states like Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, 50% of the adults in Jharkhand and 20% of children in the 1-5 age group in Bihar being affected.
Our solution is a simple non-toxic plastic casing that holds material (Alum Impregnated Activated Alumina) that absorbs (adsorbs, actually) Fluoride from the water very efficiently.
While we were solving one aspect of the ‘Water Problem’ (that we see as being four pronged - Availability, Accessibility, Quality and (overarching) Efficiency) we did not want to restrict ourselves to too narrow an issue - however scalable the idea might be, due to the geographic spread of fluoride contamination. Hence, apart from defluoridating the water, we went a step further to try disinfecting it (using Calcium Hypochlorite) and providing nourishment (through an all natural food supplement: minerals, vitamins etc.) in tablet form.
Depending on use case scenarios adapted this core product to various form-factors:
The Paani Tablets: Each Paani Bottle comes with a dispenser integrated in its cap, that houses three month’s supply of tablets - that contain water soluble vitamins, minerals, salts etc. and Calcium Hypochlorite - a disinfectant in tablet form. The micronutrients are an all natural supplement containing mineral enhanced yeast (provides iron, selenium, zinc, copper, gtf chromium, boron, iodine, molybdenum and manganese), citrus pulp (vitamin c); carrot concentrate (beta carotene); vegetable oil (vitamin e); yeast concentrate (niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B6, thiamin, vitamin B12 and vitamin D); corn meal (biotin, inositol and choline) and alfalfa concentrate (folic acid and vitamin k). To this we add powdered tulsi - known to have significant medicinal properties, and substantial cultural connotations.
The Paani Tablets can be targeted at specific deficiencies in specific geographies, such as scurvy, maternal health etc.
The total cost incurred/litre of pure, nourishing water is INR 0.18 or $0.003 per litre.
Reaching the market at the bottom of the pyramid is difficult, in India - this is especially true of rural households. In finding a channel partner who could help us with this, we looked at organisations that had: existing infrastructure, a professional management, past traction in delivering such goods, a goal and vision similar to ours, and a yearning to go the extra-mile and solve as many problems (peripheral to the core issue they are countering), as possible. We zeroed in on two organisations for this purpose:
1. Sakhi Unique Rural Enterprise (SURE)
Sakhi Unique Rural Enterprise (SURE) Private Limited was founded in 2009 as Sakhi Retail Private Limited. The organisation specialises in creating rural retail women entrepreneur-networks focussed on reaching out clean and green energy product solutions to those at the Base of the Pyramid. SURE also runs a Micro-Business Incubator - encouraging rural women to undertake socially conscious micro-businesses by providing them access to technology, finance and markets.
SURE has built long standing strategic partnerships with leading companies in the sector for prototyping and producing clean and green products for the rural BOP markets, supporting such companies in cutting down distribution costs and reaching the BOP market in an effective manner.
We plan to propose a partnership with SURE to encourage women entrepreneurs to become local ‘Paani Champions’ - entrepreneurs who act as distributors and marketers in local communities, encouraging adoption, delivering training, and ensuring effective use.
Janalakshmi Financial Services, Established in 2006, is India’s largest micro-finance organisation. It is present in over 170 cities across 19 states, and focuses on urban and rural poor, with outstanding loans and advances of almost Rs.6,000 crore as of September 2015. They services over 1 cr + urban and rural poor through their tailored products
While the bank’s core product is Small Batch loans, Apart from core banking functions, However, the company also provides individual loans to those who have demonstrated a successful credit track record as well as loans to micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Janalakshmi also distributes micro pensions and savings accounts on behalf of other financial institutions.
But perhaps the most innovative of their offerings is a debit card - Janalakshmi lends its SB loans using debit cards (not cash) - a portion of the lent amount is then directed towards essential products (health beneficial, basic necessities etc) that are sold to the borrowers through Janalakshmi itself (the bank becomes a supplier of the goods to its customers, acting as a channel partner for other companies.
It is this feature that we want to use, to distribute the Pani Pods and the Pani Bottle to fluoride affected rural and urban areas in India:
- Project Paani sells product at a margin to Janalakshmi
- Janalakshmi makes it available through its centres in the region
- Marketing and awareness is taken care of by Project Paani
- Janalakshmi acts as point of sale channel partner and distributes the product to the target customer
- From the Janalakshmi database, we are also able to find out specific user data and draw analyse these to further iterate the product and understand the user base.