Business Connect For Water: A database revolutionizing global water solutions
By Grace Obeda
You might have heard about the new database for all things water called Business Connect For Water. The database was created to aid those working to end the global water crisis, and designed to promote collaboration over competition at every level. I got the chance to sit down with the brains behind the inception of Business Connect For Water, Luke Pinneo. I was able to talk to him about his personal journey, and what exactly this means for the future of clean water.
From Corporate Finance to Clean Water Advocate
Luke did not start off his career impassioned by the billions of people that lack reliable access to clean water, nor did he ever imagine himself becoming part of a global cause to fight water insecurity. He, like many, did not have the world water crisis on the forefront of his mind. In 2010, while he was going to the office at his corporate finance job like any other day, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti.
The small island nation found itself scrambling as its infrastructure failed to meet its citizens’ basic needs. Hundreds of thousands died. Many were left homeless, and over a million were left displaced and struggling to secure food, water, and other necessities. This international event is what brought Luke’s attention to the realm of humanitarian work. He says,
“I was sitting there in my cubicle, continuous news coverage of children being pulled out of rubble playing on one monitor, while I worked on account reconciliations on the other.”
Luke witnessed this harsh contrast between two worlds and it elicited something within him. He felt an overwhelming need to do something about what was going on in the world, and find a way to help. He tells me,
“Just like that, a quarter million people had died and I was just sitting there handling multi-million dollar accounts. It was less than two weeks of that experience, of watching this happen from the outside, that I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Haiti.”
Igniting a Passion for Change
Within a month, he had left his corporate life behind and was living with a family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He dove right into the work that needed to be done. There he met and lived with Jack Barker, the creator of a water filtration unit called the Sunspring. Together, they installed a dozen or so of these solar-powered water filters across the island, with hopes of providing access to clean water that simply didn’t exist in the wake of a massive earthquake. They did this all while witnessing firsthand the consequences of such a disaster on the lives of people all across Haiti.
Providing sustainable sources of water is an ambitious endeavor to undertake in any country or region. But in a country whose seemingly perpetual economic strife prevented it from developing reliable water-related infrastructure, even before a natural disaster? It was its own unique challenge. This experience marked Luke’s introduction to the world of water.
Challenges and Industry Hurdles
From there, he moved on to working with Kinship United and began assessing the different water system needs of orphan homes scattered across thirteen countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. In well over half of these homes, he found that the water collection or filtration system in place was in need of improvement. Reflecting on his experience he told me,
“As I was going through this process of figuring out what solutions were best considering the circumstances, I realized what a tiring and overwhelming process it was.”
Let’s remember that prior to booking his one-way-ticket to Haiti, Luke didn’t have any experience in water filtration or the WASH sphere in general. All his knowledge simply came through osmosis, as a result of being in, and working in that space.
“It was tiring to figure out, for one, what was available, and then secondly trying to communicate directly with a manufacturer who’s more often than not the founder, or an overzealous salesperson. It was exhausting trying to find an objective source for these solutions.”
His feeling of exhaustion, and frustration regarding how difficult it was to find manufacturers, distributors, and objective analyses on different filters, was the beginning of Business Connect For Water. Wanting to change this, a seed had been planted in his mind. While he didn’t realize it at the time, he would go on to imagine and bring to life a platform that would target the very problems he was experiencing in his work.
When he transitioned to the sales side of things, working for a company looking to distribute water filters, he again found problems with the process telling me, “I felt pigeonholed into a scenario where I was forced to recommend a solution because it was the solution that we sold…”
Vision Becomes Reality
And just like that, the seeds of a database called World Thirst Solutions, later to be known as Business Connect For Water, began to grow.
“I started to map out a suite of solutions where organizations could work with each other… I wanted people to be able to look through an objective lens to determine what was the right fit for them; what solution worked for their set of circumstances”
Luke continued to mentally map out his plans for a database of all things water. A platform of sorts that contained all the tools and resources necessary to aid organizations and individuals in their quests to make a difference. He would later meet the global director, and the CEO of Business Connect, and form a relationship with them and the company over shared ideals and a common vision for the future of clean water. While initially a customer of Business Connect, he always emphasized that, “it wasn’t a question of if but when” they became partners.
Joining Forces With Business Connect
Now, partnered with Business Connect, Luke’s vision has materialized as Business Connect For Water. This database provides end-users and organizations with a comprehensive list of water purification and filtration solutions, a digital library of resources called the Knowledge Hub, the Organizations database to help foster connections and cooperation, and even a consultation tool. Tackling the world water crisis will take cooperation on a global scale, and a platform designed to streamline and simplify this collaborative process happening all over the world is invaluable.
Taking Action Against Water Insecurity
At present, Business Connect For Water has over 200 water treatment and filtration technologies in its Solutions Database. In the Knowledge Hub, hundreds of resources from news to research are soon to be available, with more added every day. There are hundreds of organizations listed on the Organizations Map to learn more about, and the potential for cooperation between groups is limitless. Possibly the most exciting aspect of Business Connect For Water is its potential to grow. Luke anticipates more articles and research, more organizations, and more cross collaboration. Even beyond that, the platform is designed to evolve to include things such as water sourcing, storage, testing, and much more outside the realm of treatment and filtration.
Not all of us may quit our jobs and buy a one-way-ticket across the world, but it always starts somewhere. Whether that’s learning more about the problem, finding ways you can help in your community, or checking out Business Connect for Water, we encourage you to join the fight against global water insecurity.