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H2O Investments - Bringing the heart back to philanthropy

By Asha and Roopa Suppiah, Special to The Daily Observer

A woman from an impoverished family in South India. She has recently built water facilities through a microfinance loan she received from our Field Partner.

A woman from an impoverished family in South India. She has recently built water facilities through a microfinance loan she received from our Field Partner.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “philanthropy?” Maybe you think of making donations to charities. Or, you might think of celebrities who are using their wealth to help tackle some big global issues. If we go back to the root of the word, philanthropy means “love of humanity.” It can take a lot of shapes and forms and really, it’s anything that involves doing good for others.

 

While working in the philanthropic space for many years through our work with Water Well-ness Project, we’ve learned that much of the public, maybe even yourself, isn’t satisfied with how philanthropy is being done. Donations are a critical source of funding for philanthropic initiatives, but shouldn’t there be other options? Why can’t philanthropic organizations be more transparent on how money is spent and what impact is achieved? Wouldn’t these changes make doing good feel good again, like it should? Water Well-ness Project thinks it would, so we’ve tackled these challenges through a new spin on philanthropy.

For those who may not be familiar with us, Water Well-ness Project (WWP) is a not-for-profit organization that was founded here in the Ottawa Valley. Our mission is to ensure that every person on the planet has access to the basic necessities of life, clean water and toilets. Since our inception, the Ottawa Valley community has been instrumental in helping the organization grow and succeed. We are so grateful for the unwavering support. Our newest development is our H2O Investments program and we are thrilled to share with the community that we are launching this program nationally on Saturday, Oct. 29.

H2O Investments is the most compassionate, sustainable and enjoyable approach to solving the world’s water crisis because it focuses on empowering people. It gives an opportunity for Canadians to lift the world’s poorest out of poverty by lending them money to help them gain access to clean water and toilets. However, unlike any other philanthropic initiative out there, this program provides lenders a financial return on investment.

The global water and sanitation crisis is real and staggering, with more than 660 million people worldwide lacking clean drinking water, and more than one-third of humanity living without a proper place to poop. WWP knows that in 2016, this situation should not be the case anywhere in the world. Our current activities are focused in India, where a population three times the size of Canada has no clean water and two-thirds of the country (more than 600 million people) lives without a toilet. With H2O Investments, Canada is set up to be a leader, not a follower, within the international humanitarian water sector.

So how does H2O Investments work? An individual makes a loan of $100 or more to WWP. WWP transfers 100 per cent of your money to our Microfinance Field Partners in India. Our Field Partners then disburse 100 per cent of this money as “microfinance loans” to families in need to install suitable water and sanitation facilities. The recipient families then pay back their loan over time at an affordable interest rate to our Field Partner. Through this model, communities gain a sense of ownership and reason to take care of their new facilities. This addresses the fact that more than 40 per cent of global philanthropic water and sanitation projects don’t last long-term.

Unlike any program out there, H2O Investments allows Canadian lenders to receive their money back plus interest, which incentivizes philanthropy and makes it sustainable. A unique feature is that lenders are not parting with their money indefinitely as is done with a traditional donation – instead a cyclic, sustainable funding model is created.

The entire process is carried out in collaboration with WWP’s Microfinance Field Partners in the country where projects are implemented to ensure the recipients of loans are supported and every step is monitored.

From investors, to collaborators, to the families we help internationally, WWP listens to and weaves the needs of each actor into the fabric of H2O Investments. Also, 100 per cent of the money that an individual invests through the program is used directly by the recipient community rather than for administrative expenses. Since WWP knows that lenders from Canada want to feel connected to the international projects, participants in H2O Investments are given pictures, videos and the GPS location of the communities their money is being loaned to. WWP is truly doing philanthropy right and making philanthropy feel good again, like it should.

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting our national launch event here in the valley, where it all began, on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the W.B. Lewis Public Library Program Room in Deep River. Please join us at our historical launch event to learn more and enjoy some delicious Indian snacks! Tickets are complimentary but seating is limited so please RSVP by Wednesday, Oct. 26 on our website to reserve your spot. Get full details at www.waterwellnessproject.ca. For any questions, contact us at info@waterwellnessproject.ca. Hope you will join us in bringing the heart back to philanthropy! 



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