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Founder Profile: Alison Wedgwood, Executive Chair– eWaterPay

The supply-aid space in water is a difficult one to make a difference in. The folks at eWaterPay set out to change that. Their unique approach to facilitate sustainable, decentralized water sources even granted them an ‘Honorable Mention’ at Imagine H2O’s SF Week. If you ever conversed with any of them, this would come to no surprise given their distinctive passion to make a difference in water accessibility in the developing world. But setting aside the energetics and charisma, what was their key ingredient to success? We sat down with Alison Wedgwood, one of the co-founders of eWaterPay, to find out.

Who are you and what brought you to eWaterPay?

I’m British and have worked for over 20 years as a water and sanitation economist for DFID, UNICEF, JBIC, World Bank and UNESCO. I have completed projects in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Gambia, South Africa… the list goes on.

Given all that experience, I co-founded eWaterPay, a pre-payment smart tap that ensures all revenue is transparently accounted for when used by private organizations or governments to pay for maintenance of systems. eWATERcare is our unique software platform for monitoring water supply systems, consumption, revenue and faults, issuing text alerts for technicians and providing water operators with an intuitive dashboard for managing their KPIs.

As Executive Chair I’m a primary donor and founder, while being a key part of the management team with responsibility for developing strategic partnerships, promoting eWaterPay and raising capital for scaling up.

Where did you get the idea for eWaterpay?

20 years of watching water supply programs collapse due to lack of funding for maintenance made it clear that pre-payment was the solution. Given a revenue source, we can be sure of continuous availability of water for years into the future. With the ubiquitous availability of IOT and low-cost mobile technology across the developing world, the timing was perfect for eWATERpay and eWATERcare to square the circle and provide not only tracked revenue, but live monitoring of water systems.

What’s the core value you provide for your customer?

Enormous value! Where do we start? In areas of water access where payment is not ensured, billions of dollars get wasted. It’s a huge crisis that is holding back development in health, women’s equality, accessibility to education and economic growth. We provide low cost technology to enable every person to pay affordable sums for their water, with full trust in the system because every cent they pay is tracked using IOT. This creates a unique, transparent platform for water operators and consumers to rely on. Secondly, live monitoring of faults with automated text alerts to technicians means that problems with leaks can be sorted within hours, reinforcing the consumers trust in the system. The customer has access to the dashboard with common sense KPI’s on usage, functionality, revenue raised to make their jobs of maintaining and expanding water supply systems easy. Essentially, we bring together, people, revenue, data, and asset health, all to the tap. We hope that by implementing this technology, we can enable communities to grow without concern for water.

What is the impact you want to have on the communities you serve?

Clean affordable water every day. Now, next year, the year after and the year after that… I want communities to trust using eWaterPay technology and to encourage local private entrepreneurs to take on the role of water operators. In other words, to empower communities and disrupt the water supply aid sector.

What’s the biggest thing being a founder has taught you?

Resilience. It’s tough when for 30 years, aid institutions have followed the same path. We know that eventually someone, or some institution, will fully understand eWATERpay and how it can potentially transform 2 billion lives. I have to stay focused, positive and passionate remembering that the overall goal is something everyone in the team truly believes in.

What’s in store for the rest of 2018?

We’ve acquired new pilots and eWaterPay partnerships with Safe Water Network, USAID, Water Aid, Arusha District Council, 33 buckets in Peru, e-Power in Haiti. In all, we’re looking forward to selling over 500 eWATERpay taps and eWATERcare systems this year. We need to raise $3.4 million to help us get to scale quickly, but we’ve got a lot of companies and philanthropists interested in us, so I guess its just about getting the relationships right and making it happen. That’s where IH2O comes in…

Sum up your IH2O experience so far in 3 words.

Exciting, inspiring, motivational.

Alison and the team at eWaterPay have a very exciting 2018 ahead of them. Feel free to reach out to her directly at alison.wedgwood@ewaterpay.com. Stay tuned through @imagineh2o on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2018 Accelerator companies.