SPOUTS of Water has been producing and distributing over 1900 ceramic water filters to Uganda and South Sudan since February 2015.
Our factory in Kajjansi is currently producing around 500 filters each month under full operations. However, we are looking to expand in the coming year through the acquisition of a new plot of land and the construction of a new factory designed from the bottom up. We have found that the demand for our filters is greater than our supply, meaning that we need to move on from our renovated half-acre chicken farm to a new home where we can have more space for raw materials, production processes, and a larger inventory. We are also adding to our team with new staff coming in on the administrative, sales, and production sides of the business.
We are happy to announce a partnership with MTN stores in and around Kampala area that will allow for our end-users to purchase their own filter easily in a store near them. We are also preparing a marketing campaign to help spread the word about SPOUTS filters, which are more cost-effective and better for the environment than boiling. In addition to our sales, SPOUTS has partnered with four local primary schools in need of clean water access and education through our Filters For Schools program where we donate SPOUTS filters and provide a clean water curriculum to schools in need.
How does your innovation work?
Ceramic water filters are an open-source, internationally-implemented technology that provides clean water to millions of people in need at a low cost. Our filters are made with locally-sourced clay and sawdust. We process the raw materials, mix batches of clay, and press the filters into a flower-pot shape. Upon firing the filters, the sawdust combusts, leaving behind small holes within the clay structure that are small enough to let water pass through but trap any bacteria that might be present in the water. We then paint on a layer of silver to act as a bacteriacide for any residual bacteria after physical filtration. Our filters have been tested by the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment who found that SPOUTS filters remove 99.9% of bacteria from any source of water.
Our entire filter system is bacteria-proof. Water is poured into the ceramic filter which is securely housed in a 20 liter plastic bucket. We ensure that there are no gaps between the edges of the filter and the bucket so that no dirty water can accidentally go directly into the base of the bucket. There is a tap at the bottom of the bucket which allows users to take water for immediate consumption as opposed to storing in another container, which may lead to seconday contamination. The entire SPOUTS filter system is designed to treat water for healthy human consumption.
What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?
SPOUTS filters have been approved by the National Water Quality Reference Laboratory at the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment. Chemiphar, an independent water testing laboratory in Kampala, has also found that bacteria is reduced by 99.9% by using SPOUTS filters. We have also designed a health, social, economic, and environmental impact assessment study which we intend to implement in the coming months to verify that end-users are receiving all of the available benefits of SPOUTS filters.
Right now, over 20,000 Ugandan and South Sudanese people (adults and children) are using SPOUTS filters either at work, school, or in their homes. SPOUTS filters are a household product but we have expanded to schools, work stations, and prisons to allow for people to access to clean drinking water all throughout their day.
What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?
Our plan for increasing the sales of SPOUTS filters is to increase awareness. Ceramic water filters are still a new technology in Uganda. Trying to change people's behaviors away from boiling to accepting that pouring water through a clay pot can make their water just as safe to drink is a challenge. Thus, SPOUTS is a designing a marketing and sensitization campaign that will allow for the SPOUTS filter to become well-known and well-understood all around Uganda.
SPOUTS is also taking the novel approach of partnering with micro-finance institutions across Uganda. These institutions are providing financing options to their members so that they can purchase a SPOUTS filter and pay it back in installments over time. This reduces the cost barrier for many households. We are also working towards getting SPOUTS filters into retail stores for one-time-payment sales by wealthier Ugandans.
Through these approaches, we are hoping to make SPOUTS filters affordable for every Ugandan. With proper education and marketing, SPOUTS filters will continue to take off in the consumer market where we have already found incredible success.
Our next steps at SPOUTS are to expand quickly. We intend to move to a new factory within the next year to allow for the increase in production from 500 filters each month to upwards of 2000 filters each month. By 2019, the hope is that we will be able to produce 10,000 filters each month!
We are also working on the development of a premium model. The market in Uganda has indicated that wealthier Ugandans want a nicer product to showcase in their homes above that of our regular model. For this reason, SPOUTS is developing a premium product that will attract economically-able Ugandan households.
SPOUTS is developing a local sales team who are capable of pitching our product to local end-users in a culturally-appropriate way. This team is being trained on the specifics of SPOUTS filters and is then being sent into the field to work through established sales networks to introduce our product.