Miya: Delivering clean drinking water, at scale

59610-tikun miya-bizua1-0708Over the years, I’ve heard and written about many efforts to provide clean drinking water to the world’s poor people–Procter & Gamble’s PUR, Unilever’s PureitLifestraw from Vestergaard Frandsen and PackH20 from Greif. (See, for example, my blogposts about Lifestraw and PackH20.) They’re worthwhile and innovative but, for various reasons, they have been slow to scale.

Last week in Israel, I learned about company that is only six years old but has already delivered safe drinking water to two million people in a single city–Manila. Called Miya, the company also has projects underway in Brazil, South Africa and the Bahamas. A wholly owned subsidiary of Arison Investments, Miya is one of the emerging stars of Israeli’s clean tech sector. [See my last blogpost, In Israel, clean tech is not the new new thing.]

Shari Arison, the owner of the Arison Group, launched Miya in 2006 with $100 million of her own money. [In a Jewish text known as the Kabbalah there are 72 names for God, one of which is Miya.] She did so, she told me, because it aligns with her desire to lead businesses that do good in the world. Miya isn’t a glamorous business–essentially, it deploys sophisticated technology to help water utilities close leaks from underground pipes–but it is growing  fast and already having an impact on a urgent problem.

Meir Weitchner, Miya’s chairman, told me: “The way the world today is dealing with water is leading to disaster. In our generation, we–if we don’t do something different–are going to suffer from serious water shortages.” That’s because people continue to move from rural areas to cities, and because the amount of water used by people is rising. [click to continue…]