This Shepreneur is Providing Access to Clean Water Through Technology Enabled Solutions
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While growing up, Dr Vibha Tripathi used to stand in the queue along with her mother in their village in UP to collect pots of water. She saw women in her village wasting hours collecting water for household necessities; incidents that left her wondering about the developments that are urgently needed in the country.
Although over the years the situation has become better, Dr Tripathi noticed that a different problem had risen. With growing use of pesticides and chemicals in the farmlands, the water was getting polluted and people in the rural areas were consuming the very same contaminated water.
This led to the conception of Swajal Water Private Limited. Swajal works with communities where technology intervention alleviates critical issues regarding water. Swajal machines, therefore, are solar powered, automated smart drinking water stations.
Entrepreneur India spoke to Dr Tripathi about how she built Swajal so that millions of other women wouldn’t suffer like she saw her mother and friends do while growing up.
IoT for Water
At Swajal, they use bold, innovative and exciting ideas to tackle the water challenge. Water quality varies from city to city and thus, to tackle such challenges, they use IoT – all to offer convenience. “Swajal, through IoT based model gets online streaming information directly at the headquarters. This enables us to manage several hundreds of machines at the same time,” she said.
Each of their bottles has a unique QR code printed on it which allows them to monitor the bottle. One can check the water quality, location and time of when the water was filled, this way they make sure that only their bottle reaches the user. “Through IoT, we enable easy invoicing and secure credit card payments. It’s easy to keep track and manage your subscription. When the system has an issue, IoT can perform a root cause analysis,” he said.
By collecting samples from smaller cities and towns, they check the quality of water. “We also identify other problems related to water in those areas in order to uniquely customize and engineer machines for each of those towns or districts,” she said.
Challenges Faced by a Woman Entrepreneur
One of the major challenges a woman entrepreneur faces is not being taken seriously, believes Dr Tripathi. Even though the larger picture is changing in India and the business space is no longer single-handedly dominated by men, the reality is that raising capital is far more difficult for women-owned firms, she said. “Any suggestion given by a female professional is also not perceived, by and large, as an expert advice. Forming groups during business meetings and supporting your female colleagues can help solve this problem,” said Dr Tripathi.
Raising capital has always been an issue for all entrepreneurs, but Dr Tripathi believes that with women-owned firms, it’s an even more difficult task.