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TAPPING POTENTIAL

University Of Sheffield

An Innovative Project Providing Water, Soap And Medicine To Thousands Of People In Communities In Africa.

Seeing Opportunity

Diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers in Africa and it can be solved easily by three things: water, soap and medicine. Tapping Potential is an innovative project that provides communities in Africa with all of these essential needs.

When conducting our needs assessment, we found that many charities were good at installing water boreholes, but sadly, they were not maintained and the community went back to drinking unsafe water. Tapping Potential works with local communities to restore the water supply and then establishes, trains and supports a group of local entrepreneurs to sell water at a set price agreed by the local community. The same entrepreneurs then produce soap both for the tourist and community markets. A percentage of the profits from both the water and soap enterprises provide free rehydration sachets at the local clinic. 

Diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers in Africa and it can be solved easily by three things: water, soap and medicine. Tapping Potential is an innovative project that provides communities in Africa with all of these essential needs.
When conducting our needs assessment, we found that many charities were good at installing water boreholes, but sadly, they were not maintained and the community went back to drinking unsafe water. Tapping Potential works with local communities to restore the water supply and then establishes, trains and supports a group of local entrepreneurs to sell water at a set price agreed by the local community. The same entrepreneurs then produce soap both for the tourist and community markets. A percentage of the profits from both the water and soap enterprises provide free rehydration sachets at the local clinic. 

Taking Action  

Enactus Sheffield went to Zambia in August 2014 where we established a water and soap enterprise with Gift, a local school-leaver who was unemployed. We taught Gift the skills needed to produce and sell soap to the community as well as re-establishing the community borehole. This has not only empowered the community but has saved lives  through giving the local community access to safe water, providing soap to improve sanitation, and medicine to treat people who still contract diarrhoea.

Our University Advisors (UA) have supported us in a number of different ways in order to make Tapping Potential happen:-

UAs have provided us with a centralised space to meet, as well as a separate office, so we can do work on all our projects around studying and attending classes. Having this shared space has increased our productivity and work ethic. The location of the office is near to the majority of the UAs and therefore if we hit a problem, we can talk to them about it and hopefully solve it quickly between us.

Tapping Potential costs Enactus Sheffield £6,000 per overseas trip. Therefore, funding can be a major barrier for us, but our UAs have supported us to apply for grants within the University, such as the Alumni Foundation, and also review and provide feedback on our Individual Topic Competition (ITC) entries, so that we can maximise the success of our applications.

UAs also help us with logistics. As we are not a student society, we don’t have support from the Student’s Union when we are organising our international trips. Our UAs help us develop our own risk assessments, so we can remain safe whilst abroad.

They also support us with the promotion of Enactus both inside the University and in the local community, and beyond. Through our UAs, we have presented to Business in the Community, held Afternoon Tea with the Senior Management of the University, as well as getting publicity in faculties.  

Enabling Progress

In 2015-16, Tapping Potential gave 22,000 people access to clean water, 12,000 people access to soap and 9,000 people access to medicine. We have fixed eight boreholes and six people are now earning a wage and are being empowered. Due to the initial success with Tapping Potential, we have expanded our project to Malawi in August 2015.  

In 2015-16, we have focused on a train the trainer approach. This is where we have trained our entrepreneurs and project partners on how to run the project as well as their soap and water based enterprises. We can now expand our project rapidly with the support of specially selected third parties that are in regions in need of support.