The Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project promotes sustained water supply to communities by supporting 231 community water projects across the country improve their business services.
ESWAND Water Enterprise (acronym derived from the owner’s name-Esther Wandia) is one such beneficiary. The 67-year-old runs the business in Utawala area in the outskirts of Nairobi County. The family business started its operations in 2011 to compliment the work of Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company. The business supplies piped water to nearby households and a water kiosk from a borehole 12 hours a day. Before KIWASH, the business owners had never attended any business training.
“It was difficult managing the business without the technical know how. We nearly closed down since we did not have the right approach to the market. It was until KIWASH came that we started getting training on how we could manage our business,” highlights Esther.
In most cases, without the skills, most water enterprises maintain a small base of operation and lack the financial power to expand. It is through training that these gaps are bridged. “We did not have the extra money to do equipment repairs, new connections and even to pay electricity bills. In short we operated on loans to finance our operations,” narrates Esther.
The trainings cover among other topics: Customer relations, finance management, business planning, operations and non-revenue water reduction. “We did not value the need to expand our coverage since we feared risks. Such risks included defaulted water bills which made our operations difficult. From KIWASH training, we have significantly improved breaking even. Our coverage grew from 100 households to over 200 within a very short spun. Consequently, we are no longer operating on loans as our revenue per month has hit over KES 300,000 up from KES 100,000,” a happy Esther states.
Although her biggest challenge remains high electricity cost, she plans to mitigate this by expanding her business for sustainability. “KIWASH makes routine visits to ensure that I am putting into practice what I was taught. Their support did not end at training level. I now plan to expand my business by buying a bigger water tank and a water truck to supply water to new markets. She uses the extra revenue to expand her adjacent farm which she plants vegetables and fruits for the local market.