A week in India

This week I am in India to overlook the prototyping process in action and meet with a potential go to market partner for Amrit Pani. India is my home. It’s the country where I was born, where I spent the first 10 years of my life and where most of my extended family lives. India is also a country of a billion people, where almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. The country is in dire need for change, and this is instantly visible as soon as you step out of the airport. The air is thick with smog, the roads are poorly constructed and proper infrastructure is lacking and the streets are littered with rubbish and the occasional cow dung. This withstanding, I am instantly comfortable there. The people are kind and compassionate, the food is delectable and the culture is rich. India is home, and will always be home to me. This is why, as someone blessed enough to not worry about where my next meal is going to come from, or if there will be a roof over my head when it rains, I have a passion to change the living standards of those who are not so lucky. Access to clean water is a basic human right, and the lack of this is the key issue that the Amrit Pani water filter is aiming to combat.

My first morning in Delhi, I went to finally meet our product designer in person. All out previous conversations had been over Skype but I felt like we were already good friends. We met at the agency who were responsible for the 3D printing aspect of the prototyping process. He explained to me the many aspects of 3D printing process and how there were different machines that handled different tasks depending on the intricacy of the printing. Nishant also showed me the final filtration component that was 3D printed to be fit into the filtration containers. I was extremely proud to see the realisation of the concept we were discussing just a few weeks ago. We then moved on to visit the clay making aspect of the prototype. This was at the store of Versatile arts of India, who were responsible for creating the resin and terra-cotta container prototypes. Here Nishant showed me the fiberglass production process and that of terra-cotta construction. It was great to finally meet Nishant. He is a talented designer who seemed truly passionate about the cause at hand.

Nishant and I. I even convinced him to take a selfie!

Next, I met Mr. Satyan Mishra, of Drishtee in the aims of sorting out a go to market partnership. We spoke for an hour and his passion for empowering rural Indian villagers was palpable. He truly seemed like he cared about the prospect at hand. First and foremost, Drishtee is excited by the prospect of Amrit Pani. They have triedout many filters in the past including TataSwach and have yet to find one that iseffective in rural areas. Mr. Mishra stated that the terra-cotta design is a new andeffective way of marketing directly towards the rural population. He said this is aviable project that could change the eco-system of water filtration in rural India. He did also mention that the price point of 700rs is on the higher side and this may discourage people from purchasing the product. An average rural family earnsapprox. 15,000rs. per month and chose to spend only about 5% of this. A price pointof 400–500rs. would increase the long term viability of the product due to the elastic nature of demand and income for the villagers.

Mr. Mishra said that the key to this project being successful is that production must be completed locally in villages. This will boost the local economy and create personal ties between the villagers and the product. This will also minimize the cost and logistics of carrying material from production centers. The materials will be taken directly from production centers to the point of sale and Drishtee can help in sorting out the ogistics behind this. Engagement will be created through localised word of mouth and the point of sale. Drishtee already has POS due to State Bank of India centers that have been set up. Only a few people are needed to take the lead on this. Just a few people need to vouch for the product, stating that they have used it and it is effective. In this case word of mouth will eminate in a highly positive manner.

Mr Mishra said that Drishtee’s Role will be as follows:

1. Drishtee will oversee that the production is completed to standards set by AmritPani and therefore ensure that the product is produced to a certain quality. They will also organise the micro entrepreneurship and local production units

2. POS/CSP owners will be responsible in selling AmrtiPani at their respective locations. Here Drishtee will play a direct role in ensuring that the production is of high quality and the products reach the vendors quickly and effectively.

3. Furthermore, there is a branch of Drishtee called Community Connect that goes directly into villages and can aid in organising small camps to raise awareness for the need for a source of clean water in addition to awareness for Amrit Pani and how it works/what the USP’s are.

I truly believe Mr Mishra’s passion for empowering local villagers through this project is the key to it’s success. I also spoke with my boss and the rest of the team at our meeting this past week and everyone is very excited about the potential that this partnership holds.