Conscious caught up with the founders of Water Collective at their annual Spring Benefit at the Griffen NYC (Meatpacking District). They rallied a large New York crowd eager to connect, socialize, and donate to the efforts of WC. Water Collective secures life-lasting clean water through robust solutions and economic empowerment.

F A C T /  T H E  W A T E R  C R I S I S
20-70% of installed handpumps in sub-Saharan Africa are no longer functioning. In the estimated 1-4 billion people without safe drinking water, millions more have been stripped of a water source they used to have. In Africa alone it is estimated that in the past 20 years, 70 million have lost access to water due to a failed source.

A B O U T   T H E   F O U N D E R S
Here’s a little bit about their journey.

Founders: Sophia Sunwoo (CEO) and Josh Braunstien (Water Projects Director). Sophia, who not only launched a successful company in 2010, but she has also worked with several fortune 500 companies project managing the conception and execution of million dollar projects. Josh, with 15 years in the field, he has worked on several water projects in Africa and Vietnam. This duo is not only stellar, but they are a perfect match where business (Sophia) meets experience (Josh). But, as they told me, mission work is not easy. Fellow entrepreneurs get ready to relate.

So, why Water?  Water is essential. Josh, who is oh-so familiar with the global water crisis, set out to create a sustainable solution when he observed broken handpumps and abandoned solutions in the field. He realized that they need to approach the water crisis from a different angle. To Josh, it’s not only about building wells and rigs, it’s about empowerment and education as you have to consider the human factor – people lacked the skills, the training, and the financial capacity to maintain the wells. Together, he and Sophia designed the Water Collective three-pronged approach:

01 | Water
Start with long-term options. WC uses local tools, supplies, engineers, and labor to empower and support community involvement.

02 | Economy
WC stimulates the economy by providing training and education to build up income-generation skills.

03 | Education
WC provides education and training so that locals can fix their own water source and have options to make additional income.

Great work Sophia and Josh! So, how are you making this happen?

From one entrepreneur to another, I had to ask, what are the challenges in building a nonprofit of this capacity? Josh and Sophia shared a laugh. See, both are responsible for managing all aspects of the nonprofit, therefore, they are required to wear many hats from business operations, marketing, project planning, event planning, and more. They expressed that they don’t have enough time and sleepless nights are common. They also share the added challenge of keeping donors engaged in their story and their growth.  Their solution to all of this is to grow WC organically with a grassroots approach. This means they are looking for people to support – Conscious readers, consider signing-up!

With great challenges come great rewards. First, to  Sophia and Josh, they wish their job did not exist. Second, they expressed that their greatest reward was being able to figure out how to build a product that works.

More About Water Collective
Water Collective secures life-lasting clean water through robust solutions and economic empowerment. Their big picture approach to the water crisis tackle the economic hardships millions have faced to keep their source running.

L E A R N  +  C O N N E C T
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F R O M   T H E   E D I T O R:
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