Private Sector Engagement
UniWASH project has been planned to find innovative solutions to locally identified WASH problems. This was done using students’ out of the box-thinking, the technical expertise of Academia, and the business knowledge of private sector partners, in order to create sustainability. During phase I of the project in 2014-16, UNICEF partnered with Finnish medium-sized ecological farming and gardening company Biolan, as well as with 6 Ugandan small businesses.
The companies that participated in the project had different roles: Biolan had the role of mentorship, transferring its business knowledge and technical knowhow to local Ugandan SMEs. Biolan was one of the implementers of the project through its direct involvement in the development and delivery of project activities. The Ugandan companies participated in the project through capacity building sessions. The selected companies were invited to attend a training programme tailored for them. Expectations from the local companies were two-fold:
- Build capacity to develop and design better WASH products that would have impact on children’s wellbeing
- Be inspired by students’ ideas and bring some of the ideas for further development and production
Participation of local SMEs
The aim of the project was to find local Ugandan small and medium size enterprises that could commercialise some of the ideas generated by the student projects. The project also sought to build their capacity in developing new WASH solutions, and indirectly create new jobs, boost local economy and generally contribute to poverty reduction. A selection exercise was undertaken to identify six partner SMEs, followed by an assessment of their technology and skills development needs. After the selection exercise, further needs assessment was conducted to confirm the SMEs’ capacity building preferences.
Finnish private sector partner Biolan
UNICEF Finland entered in partnership with Biolan ltd. - a Finnish medium-sized enterprise focusing on ecological farming, green area management as well as environmental products such as eco-latrines and composters. One of the key drivers in building the partnership were the similar values shared by UNICEF and Biolan: sustainable development, interest in emerging markets, and interest in developing new water and sanitation solutions. Naturally, Biolan´s strong expertise in composting toilet waste and producing waste water purification systems was a strong justification for partnership building.
Biolan’s role in the UniWASH project was to provide mentorship for the selected Ugandan SMEs to strengthen their technical capacities. Biolan also gave technical guidance to student projects and concepts.
Students exhibit their water filter project to the Ugandan private sector partners in 2015. UNICEF/2015To project page