South Africa's Water Crisis: Case Study With Alex
By Allegra Vallina
Located on the southern tip of Africa, South Africa is known for its stunning topography and cultural diversity. People enjoy watching penguins sunning themselves at the beach in Cape Town or taking in nature’s wonders on a safari. On the other hand, the country is experiencing extreme water shortages. It is predicted to run dry of resources in the future, with a water consumption rate 35 percent above the global average. As water systems deteriorate rapidly, clean water has increased in demand for South Africans. Beyond consumption itself, the region’s issues are exacerbated by water pollution, poor infrastructure, resource mismanagement and theft, and waterborne illnesses. The people are thirsty for solutions, especially affordable ones.
Alex, a distributer of clean water solutions, is attempting to provide that essential aid. After partnering up with Business Connect L3C and chatting with locals in rural areas, he took the initiative, knowing that water filtration products were sought-after, both now and in the future. Alex aims to provide products for water filtration, purification and hygiene. He supplies customers with globally certified technologies that render unsafe, unclean water, usable and fit for consumption. He also helps educate those he helps on the proper usage and maintenance of these technologies. Providing educational materials or conducting demonstrations allows Alex to maximize his impact, ensure safe usage, and make sure clean water gets to those who need it.
“I want people to think of me as the best person to go to for water products,” Alex says. He takes pride in helping people, from those living in rural communities who are looking to eliminate cholera, to those in urban areas who have no in-home water source, find access to clean water. Bit by bit, he chips away at South Africa’s water crisis, hoping to one day eliminate waterborne illness and water insecurity in his community.
Being a distributer of clean water solutions
Conducting business is a complex process, full of rules and formalities. For Alex, things are different. Imagine sitting in a business meeting with your mother across the table. Encountering her at home and in the office may seem like a fever dream. This however, is Alex’s reality, having worked alongside his mother since he was 25 years old.
“Working with family is a double edged sword and is not for everyone,” he admitted. “I have to tread carefully in some instances, while in other cases it makes completing the task easier,” Alex laughs. Despite it not being the typical professional model, he enjoys it. Alex and his mother, Dawn, make a quick and efficient team. Together they work tirelessly to expand access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, for all residents of South Africa by providing effective, cost-efficient solution to their water woes.
Alex witnessed the difference he was making during the aftermath of two major cyclones that hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Their fierce winds and relentless rain led to flash floods, deaths, and destruction. These tropical storms represent yet another facet of South Africa’s water crisis, further complicating the pathway to a reliable solution. Despite not being able to pay upfront, numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reached out to Alex, asking if VF100 filters could be provided. The VF100 was, and still is, a commonly sought after solution for water filtration due to it’s 10 year lifetime, portability, powerful filtration, and versatility. A humanitarian at heart, he decided to lend a helping hand. Through this charitable act, he was able to see in real-time the impact that those filters made on the lives of people in his region who were suffering as a result of those two storms.
The Future of Water in South Africa
In the future, Alex would like to expand to 400 independent hardware stores within the country. One or two physical stores would cut costs and make it more convenient to distribute goods. This will allow Alex’s business to make their distribution processes more sustainable. He prioritizes high-quality goods, personalized service, and inexpensive price points. “I’m willing to go the extra mile and go above and beyond the customer’s expectations,” Alex insists.
As a Business Connect distributor in South Africa, Alex has plenty of experience when it comes to commerce. He suggests for newcomers to be careful about who they choose to assist. Nevertheless, he stresses the importance of empathy and assisting those that need it rather than focusing on profits. As a good rule of thumb, you can maintain integrity in your business by prioritizing people, the planet, and your impact, before profits.
On having any regrets, Alex merely mentions wishing he had started sooner. “Mistakes have led me to this point,” he says. “But, success is built on failure.” Seeing first hand the impact of the work he has done and the positive effect it has on his community, has motivated Alex to continue working towards his mission of expanding access to essential resources, with the hope that one day no one in South Africa will suffer from unclean and unsafe water.
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