Friday 30 October 2015


Crowdfunding is changing lives in a big way.
One of the most noticeable entrepreneurial innovations of the 21st Century is crowd-sourced funding. If you have a good idea but don't have an angel investor waiting in the wings, you may be in luck. Via the Internet, you can set up an account to solicit and collect donations or investments to support your project. The largest, most popular crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, get frequent references on social media as even celebrities use them to support their projects. Moviemaker Spike Lee used Kickstarter to raise more than $1.5 million to support a movie project. And business start-ups use crowd sourcing too, including one very successful campaign in support of an affordable 3-D printer.
People love a good idea, and if you have one, crowd-sourced fundraising might be the way to go. But it doesn't have to be an art project or a business start-up. It can be an idea to improve the quality of life for struggling populations, like a filter to help anyone, anywhere, convert dirty water into clean water.
Here in the US, when we want a glass of water we turn on the tap, and out it pours. But 783 million people on this planet do not have access to safe, clean water, and that number is growing each year. Most of us take clean water for granted, but residents of South Carolina understand how quickly that can change, having just endured a temporary interruption of potable water as a result of flooding. When you don't have access to clean water, getting it becomes your first priority. If you can't find it, and you're forced to drink unsafe water, you can easily end up with diseases and parasites. Such is the plight of entire populations in Cambodia, Africa, and other developing areas.

Water For Life, a non-profit, is repurposing an existing technology to help families provide their own clean water. Using the same technology employed in kidney dialysis machines, Water For Life distributes fist-sized filters capable of filtering 150 gallons of water per day. And they are using crowd sourcing to fund that effort.
The other way to get clean water, typically, is to dig wells. But that is labor intensive and has its own challenges, including high cost and risk of contamination. For the (donated) cost of about $50, a single filter allows a family to collect a bucket of dirty water and run it through the filter into a second bucket. The result is clear, safe water. And the filter can be cleaned easily through periodic back flushing. One filter means clean water, every day, for a family of five, for up to 10 years. That not only saves lives, it frees people to pursue other activities such as cooking, education, raising a healthy family and earning a living.
Thus far, Water For Life has delivered more than 4,000 filters in 16 countries and it's just getting started. They are now raising funds using IndieGoGo and have raised $30,000 as of this writing. If they can succeed at raising money through crowd sourcing, maybe you can, too. And while you're making money, why not make a difference by giving the gift of clean water?


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