In the Indian village of Vavilala, women have found a way to improve the lives of their families. With microfinance loans and each other’s support, they’ve improved the yields on their farms and started small businesses. No longer do their children have to work in the fields instead of attending school or live under straw roofs that can harbor insects.
They still have to drink water from the village’s shallow wells, however; water filled with bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter. Water filters can eliminate the risk of disease, but even affordable filters can cost as much as a third of a family’s monthly income. Microfinance can help get the filters into rural homes.
Creating a distribution network to villages is costly for water filter companies. And if sales reps have to go door-to-door, it drives the price beyond what villagers can afford. So PATH linked companies with local microfinance organizations. Women take a low-interest microloan for the filter and pay it back in installments over six months.
It’s a model that multiplies—one woman buys a water filter, then others become interested and the idea spreads. By partnering with microfinance organizations, PATH is able to reach families with clean drinking water.