The third and final winner, of the 2017 POA Educational Foundation Student Entrepreneur Grant, is Tania Bawa of Pura. A forth year Ryerson student and member of the Social Ventures Zone, Tania has won $6000 with the POA Grant towards her venture. Pura is a global water sanitation initiative, with a goal of providing access to clean drinking water for all.

According to the World Health Organization, one billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Every 19 seconds, a child under the age of five dies due to water-borne diseases. Pura aims to tackle this issue through the use of low-tech ceramic water filtration units with a cost of $2, made from materials local to our target communities.

Their implementation model starts by partnering with local potters in target communities in which pottery is a traditional craft, that often generates a lower income than required to sustain a family. Next, passionate potters demonstrating need are selected as ‘waterpreneurs.’ They are taught how to manufacture the clay filters that resemble the clay pots already used for storage of drinking water, and receive entrepreneurial education coupled with a micro-loan to jumpstart water sanitation businesses. This addresses three problems in the identified areas: lack of economic opportunity for artisans, endangerment of traditional culture, and lack of access to clean drinking water. For Pura, clean drinking water is a human right.

Pura photos

Here, Tania answers a few questions about Pura:

  1. What inspired you to start this company?
    The impetus behind Pura came from, co-founder, Samarth Arabastani’s travels to Gujarat, India.  In India, 1 in 3 of the 60 million people living there did not have access to clean drinking water. During his visit, Sam was moved to find a way to rectify this everyday health issue in Gujarat. Connecting the dots in finding an implementable solution, Sam recognized that the declining pottery industry of Gujarat, a traditional craft passed down through generations, could present a solution to both limited access to clean water, and a failing industry. From there an idea developed into a team passionate about finding a practical solution to a global and localized problem. And, through the support of faculty, the Social Ventures Zone and fellow students at Ryerson, Pura was born.
  2. Have you won or received any other awards or special mentions in the past?
    Yes, we have won three previous awards, with 36 special mentions via media outlets across Canada. Pura was awarded the Student Initiatives Fund for 2016/17; the Enactus Eco-Living Challenge 2017, and the Enactus Water Race 2017. Our story has been picked up by CBC News,  Global News (Online), and CTV News, to name a few.
  3. How many people are on your team?
    We have 12 members on our team.
  4. Do you have anything else you would like mentioned?
    Our model is to Educate, Manufacture, Sell and Reinvest. So far we’ve had starting impact in Asyut, Egypt with 10 active waterpreneurs; Dabka, India with 211,000 litres of water filtered; Darapura, India with 3x income increase for waterpreneurs; and Vadu, India has gained access to clean water for 31,000 people.

The 2018 POA Educational Foundation Student Entrepreneurship Award will open in the fall of 2018. It is a grant made available to Ryerson Students enrolled in their final year, looking to further develop their venture incubated within one of Zone Learning’s ten zones.