Swiss Founders Yves, Pascal and Patrick have built a unique business model to deliver high-quality clean water at an affordable price to families, schools and businesses across India.
The length of time it takes to collect water means that they do not get time to gain an education or earn an income. In addition, the water that they collect is contaminated and full of diseases leading to dehydration or sickness.
They recently completing their crowdfunding campaign, raising over £30,000 on UpEffect to implement their sustainable water-shop system and provide clean drinking water to communities in India.
All three founders hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. At the moment, they’re completing their final semester for their Masters in Accounting and Finance. The founders are all 26 years old and were born and bread in Switzerland. Patrick has worked for a financial consulting firm, Yves and Pascal both had a part-time job in the banking industry, during their studies.
How did the founders meet?
Pascal and Yves met each other in high school, roughly 13 years ago. They both moved to St. Gallen to study where they met Patrick. During their studies, they shared many university modules where their relationship developed more profoundly.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you were up to before Jivana Vitality
Yves was born and bred in Zug, a small canton in the middle of the German-speaking part of Switzerland. During high school, he spent one year on an exchange programme to learn English in Michigan, USA. It was quite clear from an early age that his interest was in Economics. Yves decided to study at Switzerland’s top Business School at The University of St. Gallen. While studying, the course “Doing Business in India” which caught his attention which laid the foundations for Jivana Vitality.
What was the dream when setting up Jivana Vitality?
Finding a sustainable and efficient solution for one of the most important problems of our time to cater to basic human rights. The adventure of setting up something from zero, which has a future to help millions of people in a positive way
Why did you set up a business rather than a charity?
Our firm belief is that a business approach makes the project more sustainable than a charity initiative, due to efficiency pressures and the long-term durability. We have successfully raised over £31,000 on UpEffect and this capital will allow us to drive our efforts on implementing a second water shop. This start-up capital will enable us to become financially independent so that we no longer rely on donations.
Tell us more about your social impact angle and why you’re encouraging people to be more involved with your business?
Firstly, we want to create access to clean drinking water for millions of people who have limited access. The aim of this is to reduce risks posed by consuming contaminated water. The smile on our customer’s face when they drink our water for the first time and know the low price they have to pay for it – is truly motivating us to work harder, every single day, to reach more people!
Secondly, through every water shop, we provide employment to those without a steady source of income. Most often our employees come from low income and limited educational backgrounds. We provide them with a secure and insured working space and pay them above the average wage. It’s inspiring for us to see how we are able to create a sustainable income for our employees. Around 20 families of our employees directly benefit from our on-going business activities.
With our crowdfunding campaign, we tried to inspire more people to join us on this journey and contribute directly to the water situation in rural communities in India.
Why social entrepreneurship vs conventional business?
Our business idea is by itself categorized within social entrepreneurship due to the social angle of our project. Furthermore, we set our prices lower than the local market average to reach a wider customer base, tackling mostly the lowest income strata with the opportunity of affordable and high-quality drinking water. For the price of one water bottle available in the local market, we provide 20 litres of water.
This makes our product highly accessible for the low-income families residing in Udaipur. We could raise the price and gain higher profits, but we consciously don’t! Supporting as many people as possible and not being driven by financial wealth is our long-term goal.
What is the motivation behind your crowdfunding campaign?
Financing a water shop to reach more people is the main goal. With this we hope to reach up to 6,000 people and create full-time jobs for around 20 employees. Furthermore, Crowdfunding gives our network the possibility to support us and make a lasting impact in India. The support within our network has been incredible.
To see people pledging for something, which you’ve built with your own hands, is incredible. All the effort, all the sacrifices finally pay off and leave room to provide more and more people with clean drinking water!
What is the one thing you wish people had told you before you started your entrepreneurial journey?
Be prepared, but expect anything. Take nothing for granted. Be brave and try something. Fail early, fail often.
Set breaks and treat them as such. Social leisure time is extremely important and affects the business life positively.
Any advice for people who want to have a social impact but are reluctant in making the jump?
Be 100% sure about an idea and make your way through. Talk to people who have done it: with people who have failed and others who were successful.