Safe Drinking Water for the Bottom of the Pyramid

As part of this year's "Competing in Emerging Markets" elective, Professor Simon Evenett concluded the module with a presentation and group project led by Philipp Zimmermann, Part-time Alumnus Class of 2012.


Philipp works for Swiss Fresh Water SA, a start-up company based in Lausanne, whose mission is to provide safe drinking water to the bottom of the pyramid in areas where the available surface or ground water is not suitable for human consumption, either because it is too salty, or because it contains high levels of fluoride, arsenic or bacteria and viruses. In many areas of the world, consumers currently do not have any other choice but to drink this water, leading to illnesses such as diarrhea, fluorosis and hypertension. This leads to higher mortality rates, especially among children. A child dies every 20 seconds because of unsafe water.


To address this issue, Swiss Fresh Water has created a simple and efficient desalination system that provides clean drinking water at an affordable price starting from 0.5 cent €/liter, producing up to 4,000 liters of drinking water per day. In June 2011, SFW launched a pilot project in the Sine Saloum delta, Senegal. The goal of SFW's pilot project in Senegal is to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders by improving the quality of life for the local population through safe drinking water, by creating local jobs and by fostering initiative and entrepreneurship at the bottom of the pyramid.


At the end of the presentation, three groups of MBA students worked on developing efficient strategies to allow SFW to conserve resources while scaling up its business model. Based on the following building blocks: technology, service model and local business model, the MBA students were asked to develop scale-up strategies involving potential partners such as: NGOs and private companies.


The proposals of the groups will now be shared with the senior management of Swiss Fresh Water. Swiss Fresh Water is considering a summer project with students from St.Gallen MBA, as part of the in-company project that students must complete prior to graduation.



 "We're looking into a summer project with students from the St.Gallen MBA because of their great mix of capabilities, backgrounds and experiences and because of their enthused and inspiring approach to strategizing and implementing defined solutions."

Philipp Zimmermann,
Director of Marketing and Communications - Swiss Fresh Water SA


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