WeConnex joins Business Call to Action by pledging to develop inclusive infrastructure projects that foster local entrepreneurship and empower communities while protecting the environment
St Gallen, Switzerland, 29 September 2017 – Swizerland-based sustainable business enabler WeConnex has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to establish 100 of its NEXUS Centres in South Nepal, providing affordable access to basic services such as drinking water, energy and internet to 200,000 people by 2022. These Centres will also be used to train and support 500 future entrepreneurs (80 percent of them women) to start or expand their businesses.
Launched in 2008, 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 USD 10 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors (in 2015 dollars). It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Nepal is a mountainous landlocked country with a population near 28 million, of which 80 percent live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Although Nepal is often considered to be rich in water resources, the quality and availability of drinking water vary widely. Only 18 percent of the country’s gravity-fed pipes are fully functional. In remote, impoverished areas, inadequate wastewater management and arsenic contamination are serious problems that lead to a high incidence of disease.
WeConnex was founded in 2015 to develop and manage projects for rural infrastructure and micro-utilities through the ‘NEXUS Concept’, which aims to use local resources as a springboard for promoting small entrepreneurship. In collaboration with local implementation partner NEXUS Technology, the company provides poor communities with access to basic services like safe drinking water, sanitation and communication at fair prices while fostering local entrepreneurship – all powered by renewable energy systems.
Each NEXUS Center is an entrepreneurial hub that provides access to clean water and energy supplies, and offers a home for local businesses.
The NEXUS inclusive business model uses a modular approach that allows the company to tailor products and services to community needs, and offers partnership opportunities with telecommunication providers, microfinance institutions and other local businesses. This makes the Centres true ‘one-stop’ retail and infrastructure facilities that aggregates community members’, promotes local development and creates employment opportunities.
“Owned by local entrepreneurs, NEXUS Centres primarily treat and sell drinking water,” explained WeConnex CEO Lars Willi. “But WeConnex enables these entrepreneurs to supplement water sales with complementary local products such as food, and clean energy – strengthening their businesses. They can also link with external partners who can use the Centres’ infrastructure to build or expand their own businesses.”
Since 2016, WeConnex and NEXUS Technology P have helped local enterpreneurs to establish 10 NEXUS Centers in Nepal – each supporting more than 30 entrepreneurs and serving a customer base of approximately 2,000 people. These Centers runs exclusively on solar energy, producing up to 8,000 litres of drinking water per day. The NEXUS concept implies the sustainable use of all resources: from the construction of the Centres themselves and energy supply to water treatment, sustainable resource management and high quality standards are pillars of the inclusive business model.
According to Paula Pelaez, BCtA’s programme manager, “Concepts like NEXUS embody the concept of inclusiveness by driving social, financial and environmental impact – all while strengthening and empowering local people to take sustainable development into their own hands.”
In addition to its BCtA commitment to establish 100 NEXUS Centers in South Nepal by 2022, the company aims to support 50 fishing cooperatives in Madagascar while establishing 50 NEXUS Centres in that country – all by the same year. More than 100,000 people are expected to benefit from the resulting access to safe drinking water, clean energy and internet access as well as a sustainable ecosystem for entrepreneurial development.
For further information:
BCtA: Aimee Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
WeConnex: Lars Willi at email@example.com
BctA membership does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, 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 WeConnex: Founded in 2015, Switzerland-based WeConnex has set out to prove that an innovative, entrepreneurial and sustainable approach to decentralized infrastructure development can be a valid alternative to government projects or non-governmental activities in which everybody profits, sustainably. Dedicated to developing and managing projects for rural infrastructure and micro-utilities, the company’s NEXUS Concept provides access to basic services like safe drinking water, sustainable energy, sanitation and communication at fair prices while generating economic, social and environmental impacts. For more information about WeConnex and its inclusive business model, visit weconnex.org.
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