A Simple Filter

A Simple Filter

A story from Daisy Namatovu.

A smiling child gets clean water from the simple water filter attached to the sink's faucet.

Daisy met Lou Haveman, founder of Business Connect, back in 2013 when she was working as a temporary secretary for Rev. Theo in Kitubulu Entebbe Municipality of Uganda.  He was representing a new water filter technology.  That’s when she got to know about the 0.1 micron water filter.  It almost seemed magical as it turned dirty unsafe water into safe clean drinking water.  It amazed her. 

As Lou was leaving, he gifted her with a couple of filters. She thanked him and kept them, but never really used them. Over the years they stayed in touch, even during the time she spent in Amman, Jordan, working as a house helper for two years.  Upon her return to Uganda, Lou and Daisy decided to develop a working partnership. They planned to construct a building with four units of two rooms each as an investment in an area that is rapidly developing in her local Ugandan community near Lake Victoria. They began in April and made quick progress, finishing the project in September of this year.

Daisy fills her glass with clean water from a simple water filter attached to a water barrel.

Upon completion, Daisy decided to move into one of the units because she was still renting. Since she did not have piped water on the premises, she and her family were purchasing 20 liter (five gallon) jerry cans for 500 Ugandan Shillings each of clean water.  She needed four jerry cans a day for herself, daughter and two nieces, and the cost of 60 cents a day became too expensive for them.  As a result, they began to use the dirty water from the small pond near the lake. This water was not clean and had to be boiled, which ended up taking a lot of time and costing money to buy wood.  On occasion, they would just end up drinking and cooking with the dirty, unboiled water, which would cause stomach pains and diarrhea.

Daisy had to find a solution. They could not keep spending this money, but needed to be drinking clean water for their health. As she thought about her options, she remembered the gift from her friend and investment partner, the magical water filter. Pulling it from the box in her storage, she figured out how to attach it to a water tank. Immediately she started getting clean and safe water right then and there! A water filter that didn’t seem as important at the time, now brought them health and savings in time and money. 

A child carries a container of water on their head

Looking to the future, she hopes to provide these filters to those that live in the other units because she knows firsthand the challenges of not having clean water. This will relieve them of the burden of walking miles to collect clean water, as well as save them time and money that they would have spent with the alternatives.

She gives a special thanks to her friend, Lou Haveman; “The water filter you gifted me has saved us from sickness as well as the expense and difficulties of purifying the local water. We now have access to clean water, no worries about buying it anymore.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from one of these simple, yet effective water filters, connect with us or your local Business Connect distributor. We would love to help you gain access to clean water through the VF100 water filter, a 0.1 micron filter that will provide you clean water without the need of electricity or replacement parts.

From a Failed Law Exam to a Passion for Clean Water

From a Failed Law Exam to a Passion for Clean Water

This is the Tusafishe team.

Meet Henry and his team. Henry is the founder of Tusafishe and one of our partners in the work to provide clean water around the world. We are excited to share that he was selected to be part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. This is a huge honor and opportunity for him to be able to develop as a leader in his community. With that in mind, we thought it would be great to share his story – how a failed law exam turned into a passion to provide clean water to those in need. 

Henry originally was going to study law in Uganda. He studied for years and was planning to take the exams in the spring. Unfortunately, when it came time to take the final exam, he was hospitalized from typhoid fever. This was a direct result of drinking unsafe water. The hospitalization kept him from passing the exams and he set out on another path. 

As typhoid, a waterborne illness, affected Henry’s life in a big way, he decided to focus on providing clean water to others. In hopes of starting his own organization, he focused on accounting and finance at school.

Laying the Foundation

A person smiles as they show off their supply of clean water in Tusafishe buckets.

Upon graduation, he joined a water company as an accountant. Henry learned a lot in this position, but found that the main problem was that there were many who still could not afford equipment for treating their water. Those who lived in cities were able to buy the water filtration products from the company, but no one was thinking about those in rural settings. Henry brought this up to his manager, but his manager said that it was not possible to get rural communities clean water because it did not make sense for the business. They could not just give products away. 

This did not deter Henry from pursuing his passion to provide clean water to rural communities. In his free time, he began laying the groundwork for Tusafishe, a social enterprise that would help rural schools gain access to clean water. He also enlisted friends to help him along the way. Eventually, he moved on to a new role as the accountant for the SINA, Social Innovation Academy. This allowed him to use their entrepreneurial space as well as pour into other young entrepreneurs. 

Tusafishe Grows

In November 2017, he built his first water filtration system prototype with SINA. In the new year, his Tusafishe team gained more stability and wanted to figure out how they could support themselves. They applied for SEED, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship for sustainable development, which provides additional training. Tusafishe won the SEED Climate Smart Enterprises Award and traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to accept it. At the SEED conference, Henry met Darin, our Business Connect global director. Henry made it a point to have more conversations with Darin as Business Connect offered a variety of filter options and he saw this as an opportunity to expand Tusafishe’s work. 

A few months later, Darin was visiting Uganda and discussing the various business opportunities with Business Connect. Their goal was to make a profit to sustain their business and allow them to do clean water projects for rural schools.

A Bright Future

Henry accepting certificate for his inclusion in the Mandela Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders

Of course, 2020 was not good for the business. As lockdowns swept across the country, business slowed, but this did not stop Tusafishe. Henry continued to search for ways to develop the organization. He applied to and was selected to be a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders. This opportunity provided him the opportunity to take business courses at the University of Nevada, Reno. He also was connected with a business mentor and a larger network of leaders. 

As he continues to explore ways to grow his business, we are excited to come alongside him. Our heart is to empower local entrepreneurs and help them run successful businesses. If you or someone you know is an aspiring entrepreneur, connect with us. Our ever expanding network is a great place to find support and mentorship. Let’s partner together to bring change around the world.

Clean Water Challenges in Rural Eswatini

Clean Water Challenges in Rural Eswatini

Despite its small population size, Eswatini (Swaziland) has the highest HIV prevalence in the world and has been greatly affected by the epidemic (UNAIDS, 2019). With this in mind, Daran and Teresa Rehmeyer began an outreach called CHIPS in Maphiveni. It was an intervention in the local communities in eastern Swaziland for impoverished and isolated HIV affected children and their caregivers to access health care. The goal was to develop a local clinic, employing and training local Swazi’s to provide services to their communities. Today, CHIPS stands for Community Health Intervention Programme in eSwatini. 

One of the needs Daran and Teresa noticed was that of clean water. We had many clinic staff sharing they were experiencing gastrointestinal problems due to the contaminated water. The clinic also sees many community members with water borne illnesses.

Both of these systems give the option for clean water instead of collecting it from the Mbuluzi River or irrigation canals. This river suffers from animal and human fecal contamination as well as contamination from the sugar cane fields and mills upstream. There are no toilets at all in these communities, so everything ends up in the irrigation canals. In addition, there are crocodiles that one also needs to avoid when collecting water as people have been taken before. Simple purification methods are also financially out of the reach of most residents: bleach or extra firewood for boiling water are commodities beyond the financial reach of most. 

When Daran and Teresa were back in the United States, they bought a water testing kit to see the actual extent of the contamination in the rural communities. The instructions on the kit said to wait for about 12 hours for the test to change color and show the degree of contamination. Within three minutes the test already began to change, showing the high degree of contamination in the water of the ditches. 

To counteract the contamination, the health program provided VF100 home water filters to several squatter communities nestled in the cane fields around Vulvulane. Old cooking oil buckets were provided by a local grocery store to hold the water and the VF100 were attached. To ensure they were helping those most in need, they worked with the community Rural Health Motivators (RHMs) to generate lists of people. There were also community leaders who were identified that would be responsible for the overall water filter project. 

The response to the water filters was great, but the long term and common challenge is the education and follow up with the community. Hours were spent on educating the community on the proper use and care, and with such filthy water, consistent maintenance is key. Coming back to the community months later, the people reported that they experienced a reduction in water borne illnesses when using the filters. They were very grateful to be able to get clean and clear water instead of the murky and smelly water they were used to. Check out our website if you are interested in seeing if the VF100 water filter is the best fit for your next project. If you would like to learn more about Daran and Teresa’s work in Eswatini, check out their website

Clean Water through Collaboration

Clean Water through Collaboration

The need for clean water is widespread around the world. Karen, a Nicaraguan from Tipitapa, knows firsthand the importance and need for clean water, as well as the difference it makes. Throughout Nicaragua, there is a large problem with the water because of contamination from latrines. Some communities have wells and others have city water, which is sometimes treated with chlorine. Many know that their water is not good and that it is the cause of their stomach problems and diarrhea. In order to protect newborns, mothers will try to kill the bacteria with chlorine, but this is not done for everyone’s water.

Karen is able to give back to her community by working with an organization called Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners, a not-for-profit organization working to enhance quality of life in both Wisconsin and Nicaragua, by people-to-people programs promoting cultural awareness and sustainable community development. With her mother, Lilliam, working at Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners for 20 years, she practically grew up in the organization and knows it well. 

She began volunteering in 2006 and was awarded the “Spirit of Service to Volunteerism” award for her workshops in Tipitapa promoting education and reading habits for children. Karen and her brother, Jonathan, also traveled multiple times to work with an English as a Second Language program in Wisconsin. This pushed her towards pursuing a degree in International Relations. Now, Karen manages the Dulce Porvenir Learning Center which provides classes in sewing, carpentry, beekeeping and other marketable skills. The organization also has an organic farm where they raise chickens and grow other vegetables to sell. This helps the organization be sustainable for the future.

Aware of the need for clean water, Karen worked with Amy, the director of Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners, to come up with a solution. Wisconsin Association for Home and Community Education (WAHCE) members Lylene and Marcelline, who traveled with Wisoconsin/Nicaragua Partners, were also key as they collaborated with the National Volunteer Outreach Network to support the project. Amy recommended the VF100 water filter from Business Connect.. They also received donations of five gallon buckets from Portesi’s Italian Foods, a business out of Stevens Point, WI. Through their shipments of humanitarian assistance, Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners brought the items to the capital in Nicaragua where a group of volunteers assembled the filters. 

Karen and Jonathan then worked to identify 12 different communities in the Tipitapa area based on their extreme needs. In these communities, some of the most impoverished families actually have three or four families living in one house. In order to ensure they were connecting with the families most in need, they collaborated with community leaders to compile a list. Going door to door, Karen and Jonathan distributed the filters. They explained how to use the filter and how to maintain it for many years. They also explained the health benefits of clean water so that the families were motivated to use the filter.

Those who received the water filters were so happy. One family shared that they had felt sick for a very long time. They used to go to the doctor often, but still did not understand the reason for their sickness. When they started drinking clean water, their health improved. They were finally able to save money instead of spending it on visits to the doctor. 
This all came together because of collaboration, where people working with people helped improve the quality of life for all involved. Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners continues to provide clean water in Nicaragua with the VF100 water filters. In the past, there have been many challenges getting water filters to the Nicaraguan communities, so the project has been a huge help to those that have been in need of clean water for a long time. The organization is actively distributing filters throughout Nicaragua’s most underserved communities. If you would like to learn more about Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners and their work or to make a donation to their water filter project, visit their website at https://wisnic.org.

Empowering the Local Entrepreneur

Empowering the Local Entrepreneur

Business Connect was created as a way to help those in developing countries start businesses and sell a product that is life enhancing. This thread has continued to be a part of our work throughout the years. Our model is to establish a country distributor and then have them work with additional distributors in those countries. Inversiones Wolfe Honduras (IWH), our Honduras country distributor, does just that. They have established relationships that allow them to encourage and help entrepreneurs grow. Here is a story from one of those entrepreneurs.

It all began with a simple call. One of IWH’s partners in the United States, Jim, who often traveled to Honduras to do development work, was looking for a way to support the local Hondurans he worked with. The locals would have work when volunteers visited, but were not able to have sustainable income for the long run. Jim was looking at employing the local workers by having them distribute the water filters, yet the Business Connect distributor reminded him of the importance of distributing the filters for a price. By selling the filters, there is ownership of the filters as well as increased adoption. An additional benefit of having a local distributor is that there is someone available for any needed services. The partner agreed and connected IWH with a Honduran he worked with named Ricky. 

Ricky has a great heart and entrepreneurial spirit. He immediately soaked up all of the information that IWH shared about building a water filter business, like partnering with local non-governmental organizations, setting up a storefront and doing his own clean water projects. Mike at Inversiones Wolfe Honduras was a wealth of information for the new entrepreneur, Ricky. He was also able to share about the legal aspects of starting a business, how to present the filters, and how to market his business. The support he received helped Ricky start his own water filter business that is impacting his local community. Additional communities are gaining access to clean water and Ricky is generating income to support himself.

Ricky is also now an important part of the Business Connect distribution network as a distributor in partnership with Inversiones Wolfe Honduras. Their heart to mentor new entrepreneurs is our hope for our entire network. We desire to continue to develop partnerships and small businesses that will continue to improve the quality of life in communities around the world.

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