The Business of Water

Kathmandu valley has been struggling with access to water since early 2000s. With the population rapidly growing at the rate of 4.7% annually, and houses-apartments multiplying manifold ample water for every household seems like a farfetched dream. In Nepal, we are still struggling to meet basic needs. This also presents opportunities of entrepreneurship for enterprising individuals.

One of the 10 companies selected for the third batch of Rockstart Impact, Best Paani specializes in research & development and installations of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable water systems. Founders, Gokul Dangal and Sajal Pradhan state, ‘Best Paani was founded with the objective of providing easy reliable access to safe clean water with excellent service and maintenance techniques.’

When asked how the duo zeroed upon the idea of establishing Best Paani, Gokul recollects, ‘People in Kathmandu do not realize the luxury of sufficient and safe water; at least, not in the way that we from small villages outside Kathmandu do. When I made my first systems (without a company), I saw the large impact it had on people’s lives: they didn’t need to purchase tankers any more, they were able to grow plants and crops and food for their families, they didn’t get sick from poor quality water and they saved a lot of time that they used otherwise to get the water.

Even today, the people whose systems I installed ten years ago, reach out to me and thank me; that is the sort of impact we have made in people’s lives.’Best Paani works with the vision of creating a world where every person has equitable access to clean water, and use environmentally sound technologies and 100% locally available resources verified by local and international frameworks for personal, commercial and industrial scale systems. Gokul adds, ‘To start something that was not heard of as a pioneer engineer was not an easy task. I surveyed people all over Kathmandu to understand the need/willingness to get alternative water systems and the impact lack of water had in people’s lives. The statistics stated that every year, 600 children under 5 die from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. And with that in mind, Best Paani’s mission eventually was to make clean drinking water accessible.’

Looking back and rewinding the hands of time, Gokul wishes he would have studied Business and Marketing in school because until he was running a company, he did not realize the value it entailed and it took him very long to truly learn its value, discipline and the ability to leverage that knowledge in his business. ‘I never had a mentor through my 12 years of journey in installing water systems and I am a self taught technician. I would have gained much more momentum and clarity, and I would have been able to help a lot more people by now, had I any mentors for my work. Today; however, I do mentor many of my juniors in this field and I am happy to contribute to their journeys.’

I inquired, ‘What is the most challenging thing that you come across while running your business?’ Gokul shares, ‘Firstly, there are the challenges that are common to all businesses in Nepal. Ours in particular would be inventory management which fluctuates our costs of transportation; bringing the knowledgeable customer to that point of sale/action; making our flow processes more efficient; measuring our carbon/environmental impact and innovating various ways to reduce them in our product life cycles.’

With Rockstart Impact’s 100 day long business growth curriculum in Best Paani’s portfolio, the duo believes that Best Paani has a great product and that Rockstart will help them leverage their water expertise to create impact in the lives of Nepali people who need it the most.

First published in the Himalayan Times, 11.12.2016

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