Lahore, Pakistan 22 February 2017 – Pharmagen Healthcare Limited has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a pledge to provide 112,000 urban poor people in Pakistan with affordable purified drinking water each day by 2020 – reducing the incidence of water-borne diseases among the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Launched in 2008, the BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Across Pakistan, 40 percent of illnesses are water-borne, including cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. The UN estimates that more than 3.5 million children in Pakistan are at high risk of contracting deadly water-borne diseases.
The 10 million people living in the city of Lahore alone consume an estimated 16 million litres of untreated water each day. Much of this water contains high levels of chemical and microbial contamination. According to a United Nations survey, 62 percent of Pakistan’s urban dwellers lack properly treated water, and this problem is particularly acute in poor neighborhoods.
Pharmagen Healthcare Limited has stepped in to provide clean, affordable and accessible drinking water to Lahore’s most vulnerable communities. Its inclusive business model involves establishing franchise-based water kiosks run by local micro-entrepreneurs. Each kiosk extracts water from underground, purifies it through a reverse osmosis plant and re-mineralizes it, yielding water quality to World Health Organization standards.
This network of kiosks not only meets residents’ demand for healthy clean water, but is building a sustainable supply chain that encourages entrepreneurship and improves local livelihoods.
According to Hussain Naqi, CEO of Pharmagen Healthcare Limited, “Consuming untreated water constitutes a major health risk for Pakistan’s people. By providing access to clean, safe and affordable water, we are not only preventing water-borne diseases and child mortality, but creating sustainable local businesses in some of Pakistan’s most marginalized communities.”
Pharmagen is able to minimize distribution and packaging costs through its decentralized franchise model. Customers bring their own containers, which are cleaned before filling. At a cost of them PKR1.5 (less than two cents) per liter, Pharmagen’s reverse osmosis purified water is the most affordable in Pakistan.
The company is also engaged in raising awareness among low-income populations about the benefits of the bottled water. As this inclusive initiative reaches scale, Pharmagen plans to partner with local NGOs in order to expand its awareness-building campaign.
“Access to clean water is among the world’s most pressing challenges, and is one of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action. “Pharmagen is taking the lead in bringing affordable and accessible clean water to urban communities with a model aimed at empowering them to achieve sustainable growth.”
Pharmagen’s newest services include home and workplace delivery of clean water, enabling customers to have similar service offerings as affluent people, but at an affordable price. By 2020, the company aims to scale up within Lahore, adding more than 100 water kiosks, and expand into Punjab and Sindh provinces. In the process, Pharmagen’s inclusive water kiosk distribution system will provide business opportunities to over 200 micro-entrepreneurs throughout Pakistan.
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Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About Pharmagen: Pharmagen Healthcare Limited is a Pakistan-based social enterprise and Acumen Fund investee whose core objective is to provide improved and innovative healthcare solutions for the country’s poor communities by focusing on expanding access to clean and purified drinking water. Pharmagen purifies and distributes safe drinking water through its chain of open water shops. Each kiosk extracts water from underground, purifies it through reverse osmosis, and re-mineralizes it. Water quality is checked to World Health Organization Standards. Pharmagen Healthcare is a subsidiary of Pharmagen Group. Established in 1990, it has become the leading producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients in Pakistan. For more information about Pharmagen, visit: www.pharmagen.com.pk.