Access to pure drinking water is considered as a basic human right and part of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. India ranks poorly in terms of providing universal coverage of potable water to its citizens. This case highlights the challenges faced by the private sector in providing purified drinking water for a diverse country like India with many geographical regions (and their corresponding water impurities) and differing levels of economic prosperity (making sustainability tougher for private companies) by focusing on Waterlife India Private Limited (WLIP). WLIP is a for-profit social enterprise that sells drinking water in rural hinterlands and urban slums at a very affordable price of US$0.006 per liter. Since its inception in 2008, WLIP has evolved to become a major player in the fragmented Indian affordable drinking water industry. Sustainability of the WLIP business model is based on a unique public–private partnership template in which three parties come together—a corporate sponsor who bears the cost of the water filtration equipment; community governance bodies like panchayats or municipalities, which give a sense of operational legitimacy to the model; and WLIP as the driving force of the network. This business model is unique for three reasons: suitable incentive mechanisms with proper alignment of interests among various stakeholders; optimization of the water-filtration plant equipment to community demand; and achieving the delicate balance between standardization of processes and customization in offerings to the operating context. Alignment of partner interest is the principal differentiator that also ensures accountability and impact.
Roy, P.S. and Chaudhuri, S. (2021), "Aligning Partner Interests: Challenges in Delivering Potable Water in India through an Inclusive Business Model—Waterlife India Pvt. Ltd.
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