Making a profitable, sustainable business with water filters

22 de Enero 2019

Ecofiltro CEO Philip Wilson visited INCAE for a living case study with MBA students. Ecofiltro is a Guatemalan social enterprise producing water filters. The class was sponsored by the Strachan Chair of Philanthropy and Social Investment and led by the Chair Director Andrea Prado.

According to WHO data, 80% of diseases worldwide result from lack of access to drinking water. Guatemala’s deficit of sanitation coverage is close to 83% in rural areas. This led Ecofiltro founder and CEO Philip Wilson to consider reaching one million Guatemalan families lacking good-quality water with a means to improve their health.

In order to share his experience with MBA students, Wilson visited INCAE on January 11 for a living case class on Ecofiltro in 2017. At that time, Ecofiltro was looking for effective strategies to create demand for, promote, sell, and distribute water filters in rural areas. Ecofiltro was seeking to meet the need for drinking water in a way that was both economically accessible to rural customers and profitable for the company.

"Bringing leaders like Philip Wilson to share their experience in class allows students to see firsthand that entrepreneurs can create economic, social, and environmental value at the same time. The goal is to inspire them to exert responsible leadership from their positions once they graduate," said Chair Director Andrea Prado.

"In the future, business firms will have to focus on social and environmental impact to survive," said Wilson by the end of the class. "You will be happier if you have business firms helping solve social issues," he added.

The living case methodology promotes discussion around a challenge faced by a company or organization so that students can propose solutions. After listening to students’ recommendations, company representatives reveal actions taken, what actually worked and what did not. This allows for a live learning environment with concrete, real-life examples.

The Strachan Chair was founded by entrepreneur, philanthropist and former Rector of INCAE Harry W. Strachan. It is funded by the Strachan Foundation and friends of Bain Capital and aims to promote social investment strategies. Periodically, the Chair sponsors living cases for relevant companies, so that regional leaders can share experiences and learnings with INCAE students.