It is 2023 andyet millions of people in both developing and developed economies still do not have access to safe drinking water. It is widely believed that this is a problem for governments to solve, but they have come up short.Instead, can businesses and entrepreneurs do better? Can we make the right to water universal? Despite the challenges, can something be done to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water?
Would you like to take part in a competition that is trying to find a scalable solution towards the universalright to water?
Would you like to collaborate across continents on an impactful assignment?
St. Joseph’s Institute of Management (SJIM, India) and the Albers School of
Business (Seattle University, USA) invite you to join hands with students at Albers and SJIM to create the best business plan to solve this crucial problem.
You will be part of a virtual team, collaborating over the internet and harnessing different countries’ technical and social expertise towards a critical global issue.
The business plans of all participating teams will be judged by prominent and successful jury members from across the globe. The three finalist teams will get to present and debate their case in front of a distinguished panel at Albers or SJIM, either in-person or virtually.
So join us today to win this unique multi-school multi-nation b-plan competition!
Water is essential for life. It is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and sanitation. It is also used in agriculture and industry. Without water, we cannot survive. Yet, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), just two years ago, over 40 million people in the United States, 12 million people in Mexico, 16 million people in the Philippines, and 100 million people in India lacked access to safe drinking water.This is just a small part of the 2.2 billion people who do not have access to safe drinking water globally. These numbers are staggering, and they represent a real challenge to the human right to water.
The right to water is supposed to be universal. This means that everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, nationality, or social status, should have the right to access water. However, there are several factors that contribute to the lack of access to water. These include poverty, inequality, climate change, and conflict.
This is why Pope Francis has repeatedly called for action to ensure universal access to clean water, which he has described as a fundamental human right. In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si', he wrote:"Access to safe drinking water is a primary, fundamental and universal human right, because it is essential to human survival and dignity."In a message to participants at the 2023 UN Water Conference, Pope Francis reiterated his call for urgent action to ensure universal access to clean water and sanitation. He said, "We must join forces, involving the entire international community cooperating to create a consensus so as to allow the integral development of humanity."The Pope's call for action is based on his belief that water is a common good that belongs to everyone. He has said that water is not a commodity to be bought and sold, but rather a gift from God that must be shared equitably among all people.
The right to water is also essential for the realization of other human rights. For example, the right to health requires that we have access to clean water. The right to education requires that schools have access to water and sanitation facilities.
Therefore, your task as a young business entrepreneur in these challenging times is to lead the charge on making safe drinking water accessible to all. Can you develop a scalable business model that will ensure safe drinking water to everyone in your respective countries? Think beyond just awareness campaigns and social activism. Think beyond rainwater harvesting, desalination, grey water reuse and groundwater recharging. Can you make a real difference using your business acumen and leveraging the inter-disciplinarynature of your team?
Working in virtual teams, can you develop a financially sustainable and technologically feasible and scalable business idea that will ensure safe drinking water to everyone?
Remember, you can tackle this problem from any angle and with whatever extent of technicality you wish. Your business idea can cater to the situation either in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, Philippines, India or any combination, or it can even be at the global level.
While this competition is co-hosted by St. Joseph’s Institute of Management (SJIM, India) and the Albers School of Business and Economics (Seattle University, USA), the students of all courses/departments/programs/schools at Ateneo de Manila University, ITESO, Fu Jen University, Seattle University and of the St. Joseph’s group of institutions are eligible to join.
The only infrastructure you need is an internet connection! After registration, all students will be assigned to teams. Ideally, each team will be comprised of a minimum of one or two students from each country. However, team sizes might vary based on the number of registrations.
Teams will meet during 2-3 mandatory virtual meetings to discuss their business plans. There will be short gaps of a few days between these meetings. Finally, each team will have tosubmit a 7-10page business plan for the first round of judging by the international jury. Thus, the demand on each individual’s time may be 3 hours a week, over a two week period.
For the first round, the business plan should be submitted in a doc/docx/pdf format. All submissions will be passed through anti-plagiarism software. The document should use Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins all round. The length of the document must be a maximum of 10 pages, excluding any appendices. Judges will read, but not evaluate, any appendices. The required structure of the business plan is below.
• Cover page, which includes the name of the proposed company and the names of the team members.
• The Idea: one page dedicated to explaining the idea (or your solution) in brief.
• The People: The men and women who will be starting and running the venture, their roles, details about any outside parties providing key services or important resources, and so on.
• The Opportunity: A profile of the business itself – what it will sell and to whom, whether the business can grow and how fast, what its economics are, who and what stand in the way of success.
• The Context: The bigger picture – the regulatory environment, demographic trends, technological trends and developments, and any other factor that will inevitably change but cannot be controlled by you (the entrepreneur). How will you be prepared to deal with the inevitable change in the environment?
• Risk and Reward: An assessment of everything that can go wrong and right, and a discussion of how the entrepreneurial team can respond. Financials can be included here.
• Appendices, if any.
The structure listed above is adapted from an article by William Sahlman, Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration (Emeritus) at Harvard Business School. All teams are encouraged to read this short article, which is available by clicking here
For the final round, the business plan should be submitted in a ppt/pptx format. The structure of the presentation will follow the broad structure of the written plan. Each team will have 15 minutes to present their plan. After all teams have presented their plan, the judges will give each team a set of questions to answer. All teams will get 20 minutes to discuss between themselves, including with overseas team members via the internet. Thereafter, the teams will have to give their answers to the judges.
For the First Round:
For the first round of this competition, we have judges from across the globe who are experts on this year’s competition topic. This multi-member panel of judges will shortlist the three best business plans for the final.
Pelle Lütken (Denmark)
Pelle is a Policy Specialist on Governance and Peacebuilding with UNDP. He supports countries in developing Responsive and Accountable Institutions at both national and local level. Pelle has worked in Copenhagen, Geneva, Damascus, Amman and New York over the past 12 years. His experience spans across sectors with a shared focus on corporate social responsibility in the private sector, international organizations such as the UNDP and ILO, and civil society projects. This mix of experiences reflects his belief in forming a platform of multistakeholder partnerships to improve living conditions in the most fragile and vulnerable areas of the world. Pelle holds a postgraduate degree in corporate social responsibility from the University of Geneva.
Steve William Azeumo (Cameroon)
Steve is a Consultant in Competitive Intelligence, Due Diligence, and Strategic Watch. He is a member of the African Center for Competitive Intelligence (ACCI) and Founder of PRESDIE, a firm specializing in Competitive Intelligence. Steve is also the managing partner at Cabinet Bridge Structure Engineering Consulting.Sarl and Country Coordinator of a business incubator, the Economy of Communion International Incubating Network (EoC-IIN), which was founded in 12 countries in the world. EoC-IIN focuses on projects with high social and environmental impact. He has authored the book “L’intelligence Economique Camerounaise” and contributed to “Les reseaux sociaux: ce qu’ils ont fait de nous, ce que nous devons en faire”. Steve graduated from the Higher School of Information and Communication Sciences and Techniques (ESSTIC) and the faculty of Economics and Management of University of Dschang (UDS), Cameroon in Business Administration.
For the Final Round:
The final round will involve finalist teams presenting their b-plans to a multi-member
panel of judges from USA and Austria. Each of these judges bring their expertise to bear
at this competition. At the end of this round, the best business plan will be chosen.
Nishanth Varghese (USA)
Nishanth works in the Strategy & Planning team in Cisco.
He has over 15 years of experience, scaling businesses, sales
and marketing for startups like Swiggy.com,
Taxiforsure.com, Housing.com, Innovaccer.com and large
multinationals like Larsen & Toubro, Cisco and Jones Lang
LaSalle. During the pandemic he ran a food pantry
delivering food to those in need. He is passionate about
global access to clean water and writes about clean water
initiatives on his weekly newsletter
https://watereverywhere.substack.com/. He has an MBA
from IIM-Ahmedabad, with an undergraduate degree in
Mechanical Engineering. He currently lives in New York
City with his wife and 3 dogs.
Fr. Lumnesh Swaroop Kumar SJ (Austria)
Fr. Lumnesh a Jesuit ecologist currently pursuing a PhD in
Austria with a focus on the impacts of climate change. He
previously served as the coordinator of the ecology
commission for the Karnataka Jesuit province and the
coordinator of GIAN ecology for the Jesuit conference of
South Asia. He has contributed articles to international
journals, exploring themes related to socio-ecology. Beyond
his research, he shares his expertise by teaching eco-
spirituality and ecological leadership courses to students
both in India and abroad. He trains teachers on international
eco-education programs, grounded in Ignatian pedagogy. His
passion lies in the realm of integral ecology, where he
engages with diverse perspectives, including those from
various religions, scientific viewpoints, and social
dimensions. Fr. Lumnesh Swaroop Kumar is an
Environmental Sciences graduate from Bangalore