Maji Milele in Kenya is a company founded by the Dutch Marcel Schreurs, aiming at improved drinking water services through pre-paid metering. In the VIA Water project Maji Milele intended to pilot a franchise concept for water vending kiosks that treat water that otherwise would have too high levels of Fluoride, salt or pathogens. Key in the model are the treatment (mostly Reverse Osmosis and UltraViolet; sometimes nano-filtration) and the pre-paid system with tokens.
For Fluoride alone, the model doesn’t work as people in low income areas do not put high value to water quality as long as it has no immediate impact on health and taste. Many entrepreneurs and NGOs did show initial interest but dropped out in the process, mostly because of the risks and hoping for more financial support. The model might better work in areas where poor water quality is obvious and where there is lack of alternative sources, while the risks for the entrepreneur need to be lowered.
Due to the disappointing uptake of the franchise concept, the total budget reduced from € 211k to € 136k.
- Despite the slow uptake, 7 out of the planned 9 water vending points adopted the technical concept
- The Franchise concept didn’t work out
- Several marketing approaches were tested. Finally, it was the free bottle concept to try a tap, that worked.
- Pre-payment Software was developed for multi-point supply and for volume-related prices
- Combi of treated (RO and UV) and less treated cheaper water (UV-only) was tested with good results
- Increase of client base for a kiosk takes time, especially in the presence of more alternatives
Tips for the future
- Have a more defined marketing approach to attract and bind clients
- Existing entrepreneurs do prefer their own brand above a Franchise concept
Potential for growth
Good for pre-paid and treatment options; less for the Franchise concept
Maji Milele, Susteq and Aqua Etiam (AquaBlu/Stokvis)
June 2017 – June 2019
In this project we will focus on people living in peri-urban parts of Kenya that now drink water with high fluoride or high salt levels. If the project is succesful, we hope to extend the activities to all parts of Kenya that have high fluoride or high salt levels.
Sustainability is crucial in this project with a heavy focus on financial and technical sustainability
Overview of Goals
Main objective of this project is to test a new (franchise) business model that must enable people in Kenya to get cheap access to purified water via prepaid dispensing stations.. The intention of this project is to contract 3 local entrepreneurs that want to set up prepaid water purification stations. The entrepreneurs must invest themselves, but will subsidized through this proejct. Additionally, we hope to find 2 existing water purification businesses that start selling water via prepaid water stations.
Explanation: drinking purified water in Kenya means drinking bottled water, which however is very expensive (typically Kes 400 = US$ 4) for 20 liters. The high price is mostly because of bottling costs as well as taxes (Kes 116 per 20 liter). In this project we look for entrepreneurs who will purify water and dipense it via prepaid meters, which should enable customers to fetch purified water 24/7 at Kes 60 per 20 liter.
Results and indicators
- 3 new successfull water purification enterprises and 2 prepaid water stations for existing water purification businesses