Welcome to Global Good’s Impact Interview series. Today we’ll be speaking with Andrea Demichelis, the Founder & CEO of Elliot for Water, an ethical search engine focused on creating sources clean drinking water in developing nations.
In this interview, Andrea discusses his pathway into the tech for good space, the shocking truth about access to clean water and how providing this vital resource can have such a profound effect on the local economy, income generation and the empowerment of women.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your role?
My name is Andrea Demichelis and I’m a social entrepreneur trying to give millions of people access to safe water. To do so, I founded Elliot For Water, an ethical search engine that uses 60% of profit to finance clean water projects. My goal is to positively impact the lives of as many people as possible while showing how anyone can make the world a better place, with just one simple action at a time.
What was the motivation behind Elliot for Water?
Before Elliot for Water was even a remote thought in my head, I was studying finance to become a stockbroker and retire to private life by the age of 40. Soon enough, though, something in me changed and I found myself in that strange situation of not knowing what to do with my life.
What helped me here was a book by Paulo Coelho called The Alchemist. This book talks about the universe and how it helps those who are willing to go after their mission. This reading initiated a process that led me to create a deeper connection with myself and made me understand that no matter what I would have done in life, it should have had an impact on the world.
My work had to be meaningful, it had to represent something and, to do that, I felt very profoundly that I had to start a company. I wanted my company to have a strong social mission, and I wanted it to still be here helping people 100 years from now. This is why and how Elliot for Water was born.
Can you describe Elliot for Water’s mission and values?
Our mission is clear, we want to start a process to give every person in the world access to safe water with our first goal being serving 1 million people.
As a social enterprise, we strongly believe in creating a solid business that has the potential to be both economically successful and socially impactful. As a matter of fact, the more successful the company is, the more impact we will be able to have.
As far as the water projects go, our main focus is on financing sustainable water projects that will help people for the rest of their lives life.
What are some of the most pressing social issues that Elliot for Water is working to address through its technology?
Elliot for Water is focusing on access to safe drinking water. As of today, 600 million people lack access to this basic necessity. Remarkably, the majority of these individuals are willing and capable of paying for clean water.
However, due to the lack of affordable options and financing, they are forced to pay exorbitant prices, often ten to fifteen times more than the middle class, or endure arduous journeys to distant wells.
The main reason we chose water, though, it’s another one – water is life. At its core, water means improved health and transformative opportunities. It is the key to accessing education for children, empowering women, and enabling the enjoyment of a fulfilling childhood.
Our project in Guinea-Bissau, for example, has yielded remarkable outcomes with children now attending school, women working, and the community utilising water for agricultural purposes, cultivating their own sustenance and generating income from surplus produce.
Water serves as the foundation for both economic and socio-cultural development, creating a ripple effect that permeates every aspect of life.
How does your company measure the impact of its work in creating positive change?
As mentioned above, water has both a direct and an indirect impact and, eventually, we want to measure both of them.
Initially, we will examine three key factors: the litres of water donated, the number of people helped, and the number of water projects realised. These measures will enable us to quantify the reach and tangible results of our initiatives.
Furthermore, we will assess the broader consequences of our water projects. This includes evaluating the improvements in the local economy, such as income generation or job opportunities resulting from water access. We will also monitor the growth in school attendance, as access to safe water enables children to pursue education.
The empowerment of women is another critical aspect we will consider. Through our projects, we aim to positively transform the lives of women, reducing the burden of water collection and allowing them to engage in income-generating activities and pursue their aspirations.
Additionally, we recognise the environmental impact of water projects. In the long term, we will calculate and track the direct reduction in CO2 emissions resulting from our initiatives.
We want to create a significant and lasting impact. By improving access to safe water, we envision a future where communities thrive economically, children receive an education and women are empowered.
In your opinion, what impact will technology have in creating a better future?
I believe that technology is a powerful tool that, when harnessed effectively, has the potential to make a tremendous impact on our world, but, eventually, it will be up to us to use it in the right way.
I think that by pairing up technology with strong-minded people who share a vision for good, we can most certainly make the world better.
The good news is, there are always more and more people pairing up the two aspects, and I’m genuinely excited to see the results.
What advice do you have for other companies looking to use tech for good and positively impact the world?
I would say adopt a for-profit approach to both the technology and the company where each head feeds the other.
The reason why is very simple: if we want the impact to be sustainable and long-lasting, the company has to be sustainable and long-lasting too. The best way to achieve this is by making sure that the business is as successful as possible.
This creates, once again, a ripple effect, a circle that will benefit the company, the people working in it, and the social cause. A thriving company has the capacity to generate resources, attract talented individuals, and invest in innovation, ultimately amplifying its positive influence.
Elliot for Water is based in France (Paris) and is currently part of the Super Connect Programme (powered by Empact Ventures) receiving ongoing super connections to potential partners, clients and funders around the world.