SEI Alums Partner to Expand Clean Water Access in India

Shilpi Roongta and Sheel Shah, both North­east­ern alums who grad­u­ated from the Col­lege of Busi­ness in 2012, took Social Entre­pre­neur­ship dur­ing their time at North­east­ern. Shilpi con­tin­ued her pur­suit by going on the Belize/DR field study in 2010, adding a Social Entre­pre­neur­ship minor to her degree and being an active SEI Research Asso­ciate and vol­un­teer for Cit­i­zen Schools. A com­mon area of inter­est for both of them has been Clean Water. They had even pur­sued bring­ing clean water to devel­op­ing coun­tries in their Social Entre­pre­neur­ship class. Their project group drafted a busi­ness plan for a com­pany dubbed “Kare Karts Inter­na­tional” that con­sisted of a BOGO model pro­vid­ing a cart that would offer easy trans­porta­tion and fil­ter­ing of water to the poor for each shop­ping cart pur­chased by gro­cers in the U.S. 

Shilpi is now a Con­sul­tant with Accen­ture and recently started a project with a global non-profit in New York City. Sheel is also in New York work­ing at a start-up that focuses on social media adver­tis­ing. While both have been laser focused on build­ing their career, it was clear that each wanted to be a part of some­thing out­side of work to sup­port change. It seemed only fit­ting that Char­ity: Water launched a cam­paign in Sep­tem­ber 2013 to bring clean water solu­tions to 100,000 fam­i­lies in Orissa, India. When Sheel heard what Char­ity: Water was doing, it sparked both of them to imme­di­ately cre­ate a cam­paign page to fundraise enough money to sup­port clean water for 10 fam­i­lies in India (appx. $4,500).

With the tagline “Clean water should not be a lux­ury”, Sheel and Shilpi set out on a mis­sion using email, Face­book, Twit­ter and Insta­gram to reach their goal by the end of Sep­tem­ber. Armed with a net­work of great friends, fam­ily and col­leagues, the duo were able to sur­pass their goal, rais­ing $5, 220. They are excited to share future progress updates from Char­ity: Water that include the exact loca­tion (we’re talk­ing GPS coor­di­nates) of the water project, pic­tures of the solu­tions and a gen­eral progress update to all con­trib­u­tors of the campaign.

 Char­ity: Water is one of a new breed of mod­ern non-profits that focus on met­rics, effi­ciency and image. They fol­low a model where they raise money for oper­a­tions sep­a­rately from pro­grams. As dis­closed on their web­site “Pri­vate donors cover our oper­at­ing cost so that 100% of all pub­lic dona­tions can go directly to water project costs”. To date, the non-profit has part­nered with 22 global orga­ni­za­tions to fund over 9,000 water projects. Founder Scott Har­ri­son is known for gath­er­ing sup­port from the tech and start-up scene as it is home to new wealth and inno­va­tion. Recently Char­ity: Water part­nered with Google to imple­ment remote mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems to “ensure main­te­nance and repair needs are being met and clean water keeps flow­ing”. Har­ri­son was also fea­tured in the cover story of Inc. Magazine’s Octo­ber 2013 issue for being a revered story-teller, a skill that has served Char­ity: Water well enough to raise $33 Mil­lion in 2012.

Although the cam­paign has ended for Sheel and Shilpi, both alums will con­tinue to seek out oppor­tu­ni­ties to give back. As for Char­ity: Water’s Sep­tem­ber cam­paign, the orga­ni­za­tion has raised just over half of the $2 Mil­lion needed to reach 100,000 fam­i­lies in India. If you are inter­ested in join­ing this effort you can cre­ate a cam­paign too. Check out their web­site