Is sanitation more important than being Swiss? We believe so. Especially if we look at it from a global perspective. So, we decided to change our name from “Swiss Water Entrepreneurship Pact” to “Sanitation and Water Entrepreneurship Pact”. This name change also reflects our focus: We are the network of water and sanitation entrepreneurship enablers. Acting on a global level – and welcoming all global players to join hands to support entrepreneurs in realising access to water and sanitation for all.
The last few months have been ones of intense reflection and discussions on where we want to steer our boat called “SWEP”. As many initiatives, the SWEP started as idea on a restaurant table cloth. It soon established itself as a series of informal exchange meetings among five organisations that have one thing in common: enabling water and sanitation entrepreneurs to play a key role in realising access to water and sanitation for all. By coincidence, the five founding members of the SWEP are based in Switzerland. So, why not call this new collaboration mechanism “Swiss Water Entrepreneurship Pact”? It all seemed so logic!
Obviously, the story is not over here. Switzerland is a small country. Being only one hour train ride from each other really makes scheduling SWEP meetings easy. But is this a good reason to exclude organisations from the other 193 countries of the planet that have the same mission? We soon realised that the answer was a pretty clear “no”.
So, we tested the waters and organised a global get-together on the side of the Stockholm World Water Week in August 2018. Many more organisations than expected turned up for this first global water entrepreneurship meeting. We had very fruitful discussions. It was encouraging. Imagine how much more impact we can generate if we cooperate and coordinate our actions globally and not only in Switzerland!
In retrospect, this is a no-brainer. The challenges regarding SDG 6 – access to water and sanitation for all – are huge. Within that, water and sanitation entrepreneurship is still a pretty small niche. Especially when looking at entrepreneurial solutions than can make a change towards achieving SDG 6. So, of course, we need to join hands on a global level! And we have to make sure that motivated entrepreneurs can focus on their work in a favourable entrepreneurial ecosystem. This includes access to finance at all stages, network support, dedicated trainings, coaching and mentoring.
That’s why we need a global Sanitation and Water Entrepreneurship Pact. Join us and help entrepreneurs to play their role in realising access to water and sanitation for all!