Designing a Scalable Water and Hygiene Business

Project Highlights

Design Team

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Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), Unilever, Global Alliance for Improve Nutrition (GAIN), Aqua for All


8 Weeks


London, San Francisco


In recent years, Nairobi, Kenya has become an exciting hub for technology and entrepreneurship, with high-speed Internet connectivity linking the city to a global innovation network. However, Nairobi is not immune to the challenges that so many developing countries share. In Kenya, only 61 percent of people have access to clean drinking water; 84 percent of preschool-aged children are vitamin A-deficient; and diarrheal diseases are among the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality.

Though numerous organizations are working to combat these crises, solutions are often siloed, inefficient, and unsustainable., along with partners WSUP, GAIN, Aqua for All, and Unilever, saw an opportunity to create a social enterprise that would improve access to clean water, personal care products, and health education.

The Outcome

After an intensive prototyping period on the ground in Nairobi, the team launched SmartLife, a scalable retail business and brand that offer clean water and health and hygiene products. SmartLife is now running successfully in several sites around the city.

The Process

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