Catalytic Funding Scales Handwashing and Drinking stations

Alli O'Connell
Alli O'Connell May 25, 2021 3 min read
Girl at Primary School uses Splash drinking Station
Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse @mekbib_tadesse

Catalytic funding from the Autodesk Foundation helped Splash build a proof of concept for handwashing and drinking stations produced at scale, which led to $1.6 million in follow-on funding to bring the product to market.

Challenge

Access to clean water is foundational to health and wellbeing; without it millions of people are exposed to preventable, often fatal illnesses. U.S. nonprofit organization Splash International designs child-focused water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for some of the world’s biggest cities, like Kolkata and Addis Ababa.

Handwashing and drinking stations around the world are often costly to install, difficult to maintain, and overlook community needs. Splash’s first handwashing and drinking station designs followed the norm – they were made from concrete, tile, and fiberglass, which are not easy to replicate or maintain.

“Autodesk Foundation’s catalytic funding and technical support helped us prove we could manufacture a new product [a design-forward handwashing and drinking station]. Without that track record, we wouldn’t have had a proof of concept for new investors. If we can do it once we can do it again.” -Leslie Llado, Director of Global Infrastructure and Product Development

Solution

Splash and the Autodesk Foundation partnered to scale a design-forward, replicable WASH solution by combining Splash’s knowledge in handwashing and drinking stations with the Autodesk Foundation’s philanthropic funding and design and engineering expertise.

From 2017 to 2021, Splash received funding to create and sell transformative stations for the WASH sector, resulting in the design and manufacturing of a plastic handwashing and drinking station in just one year, mass manufacturing of 3,600 handwashing and drinking stations for schools and orphanages in Kolkata and Addis Ababa, and establishing a social enterprise model to scale distribution.

In addition to funding, in-kind support like Autodesk software and Autodesk pro bono consulting and interns were integral to Splash’s successful design and manufacturing process.

We had limited design and manufacturing expertise on staff, so the Autodesk Foundation acted as part of our team.

Cyndie Berg, Chief Development Officer

Timeline

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Result

Early-stage, catalytic funding from the Autodesk Foundation allowed Splash to build their proof of concept of a scalable WASH solution. This proof of concept has been key to Splash’s 2020 fundraising round of $1.6 million. With this new capital Splash will design and manufacture a new handwashing product for COVID-19 response that is more applicable to institutional settings like health care facilities and residential centers. Now that Splash has proven that it can design, create, mass manufacture, and sell an affordable, design-forward WASH solution with consistent funding, it’s ready to repeat the process to address the myriad needs of the WASH sector.

With more than 800,000 people dying each year from unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene, there is still a long way to go for the WASH sector. Still, together Splash and the Autodesk Foundation have proved that design-forward, scalable solutions are not only possible, but scalable with the right combination of funding and expertise.

Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse @mekbib_tadesse

The work that Autodesk Foundation has funded is core to our social enterprise’s success, helping us establish the business and build up operational and sales capacity for our new products.

Leslie Llado, Director of Global Infrastructure and Product Development

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