If you dare to riffle through the pages of various studies done on the condition of water in India, the result of these studies will send chills down your spine. Studies by UNICEF and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that 45 per cent of India’s children are stunted and 6,00,000 children under the age of five die each year, largely because of inadequate water supply and poor sanitation.
Meanwhile, water-rich countries have started exploring business opportunities. According to EA Water, the water sector is expected to see investment of $13 billion from overseas players in the next few years. Players from Canada, Israel, Germany, Italy, United States, China, and Belgium see big investment opportunity in the domestic water sector.
At a time when the country is grappling with such an alarming situation, a countrywoman has risen up to address the water woes. P. Lakshmi Rao, a self-made entrepreneur, has decided to ensure that people have access to clean drinking water. In November 2015, she launched the water ATM facility, where people can draw a litre of clean water for as little as Rs 5.
“Water is the cause of many diseases. Pure water is the right of every citizen in the country. I want to take this facility to villages where there’s a huge dearth of clean water. The aim of this project is to keep people healthy. Healthy people will make healthy India,” says Lakshmi, Founder and CEO, Solvix Focus India Pvt Ltd.
This water ATM purifies the water extracted from ground water and municipal corporation water. Lakshmi says that it’s not an ordinary purifier. The machine follows seven-stage water purification process. The manufacturing and installation cost of 50 and 100 litre capacity water ATM is around Rs 2.5 lakh and 5 lahk, respectively
Interestingly, the water ATM machine accepts only cards. The company issues cards so that the user can swipe it in the machine and draw water according to their need. One can recharge this card from the mobile app. The card contains the user’s health information and also keeps the track of the quantity of the water consumed by the user.
Lakshmi says that it’s a profitable idea. For initial investment, she has also invited investors and partners who are interested in healthcare project. Since the launch, she has received 2,500 orders. She is also in talks with schools, colleges, hospitals, and government officials from different parts of the country.
“My father died of cancer in 2009. I was very close to him. That’s when I decided to contribute my bit to the healthcare sector,” says Lakshmi.
Lakshmi was born in Vijaywada and raised in Uttar Pradesh. She did her degree from Allahabad University. Standing against all odds, she picked up the job of a teacher on a monthly salary of mere Rs 1500. Later, she joined Maruthi India as a salesperson. She then decided to quit her job and went on to pursue her MBA from Symbiosis, Pune. Prior to starting up she worked as a HR Director in a private company.
In 2009, Lakshmi started Focus India, an HR firm in Vijayawada. With an aim to expand business and go international, Lakshmi set up Solvix Focus India Pvt Ltd in 2012. The company offers HR solutions in bio and pharmaceuticals, IT, banks, automotive, and healthcare. In 2014, it started "Travel with Solvix", an online travel portal that offers a one-stop-shop for all the travel needs. It says this is the first of its kind of B2B and B2C portal launched in Middle-East and GCC region (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman).
“Our portal offers the widest range of travel offerings for our customers. The objective is to offer customers affordable options, luxury of choice and loads of fun,” says Lakshmi.
Lakshmi says that there are many causes of failure, but the only way to success is hard work. People often look at successful people and dream of becoming like them. In a race to be successful in life, they use shortcuts and often fail.
“Success is not something that one can get overnight. Behind every successful story, there is hard work, determination, and strong will,” concludes Lakshmi.