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Closing the Water Supply-Demand Gap

RC Team Represents HBS in Hult Global Case Challenge,Places Second in Eastern Region On March 5th, Robert Klaber (NJ), Prapti Mittal (NJ), Veronica Ng (NE), Nikita Singhal (NG), and Alpana Thapar (NB) represented HBS in the Hult Global Case Challenge, a competition in which teams around the world were given five hours to create an action plan to solve a pressing world problem replica watches.  This year, teams were tasked with developing a scalable, sustainable, and affordable way to provide clean water to 100 million people at the base of the societal pyramid which could take effect in five years.  The HBS team’s proposed business,, would help to create a network of “WaterChamps”, entrepreneurs who would sell water to their communities, making the resource both more accessible and more affordable.  The team presented their solution to a panel of expert judges as well as hundreds of participating students and came in second out of 31 teams in the Eastern region. The Problem and Proposed Solution More than one billion people in Africa and Asia lack clean drinking water.  According to team member Nikita Singhal (NG), “Even though water is available through traditional channels such as municipal connections, the distribution of such water is highly inequitable.”  Water mafias within slums control the availability of clean water and often force slum-dwellers to wait in line for hours to purchase water at 10 to 15 times the price of municipal water.  Team member Alpana Thapar (NB) described, “My parents and grand-parents grew up in India so I have seen first-hand the poor conditions and suffering that families deal with every day.” The team’s solution—increase competition by instituting a network of WaterChamps, individual entrepreneurs who would sell water to their community.  Their company,, would provide each WaterChamp the initial funds required to build a shop and install a water connection in exchange for an annual franchise fee.   WaterChamps would work with local schools to provide free clean water to students in exchange for real estate to build a shop, and would sell water to local communities at less than one-fifth the price charged by current water mafias.  Even at these reduced prices, the WaterChamp would earn six times the salary of an average slum-dweller.  The team estimated that’s initial capex would be recouped through franchise fees in approximately 2.7 years for each WaterChamp. The Team and Competition // According to team member Robert Klaber (NJ), the multidisciplinary nature of the team was its biggest asset.  He described, “We each came from very different backgrounds—finance, engineering, marketing…we each approached the problems a bit differently.  Yet, when we sat around the table, we were able to bring together each of our unique insights to develop a robust solution.”  The competition allowed the team to utilize many of the skills gained at HBS, such as evaluating a case and presenting a coherent solution to a large audience.  Moreover, it demonstrated the potential of diverse individuals working towards a common goal.  Described Alpana Thapar (NB), “It was so enriching to present to a world-class panel of experts in the field and see the innovative ideas that other schools came up with.  The fact that we could come up with so many potential solutions, just after 5 hours, is a testament that if the right people put in the time and effort, then closing the supply and demand gap is really possible in our lifetime.”

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