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OPIC Supports Two Projects to Expand Access to Safe Drinking Water


March 22, 2019

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A WaterHealth vending machine in India

WASHINGTON - The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has recently provided financing to two projects that are working to expand access to clean water in the developing world, where limited supply causes widespread health problems and reduces economic potential.

OPIC, the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has provided $10.5 million in financing to WaterEquity, an impact investment manager that supports microfinance institutions and other enterprises supplying clean water and sanitation to the world’s poor. This latest financing is part of a total of $20 million OPIC has committed to the project. OPIC’s financing has already supported more than 19,000 microloans, helping almost 90,000 people access clean water and improved sanitation, and is expected to reach more than 4.6 million people going forward.

OPIC has also provided $5 million in financing to WaterHealth International Inc., as part of a total $12.5 million commitment to the project. WaterHealth has expanded access to clean, safe and affordable water to millions of people in India by installing decentralized water plants across the country. WaterHealth Vending Machines purify water on site and sell it at a price that is three to four times lower than bottled water alternatives. With OPIC’s support project will eventually reach more than 300,000 consumers every day.

“World Water Day serves as a reminder that improving access to clean and safe water is essential in the developing world,” said David Bohigian, Acting President and CEO of OPIC. “These projects offer innovative solutions for reaching millions of people who live in water scarce areas.”

Both projects are advancing scalable solutions to a problem that affects billions of people around the world. The United Nations estimates that 29 percent of the global population, or more than two billion people, lack access to a safe drinking supply. Contaminated drinking water transmits multiple diseases from cholera to polio and is the source of more than 500,000 deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to these dire health consequences, there is a significant economic impact. In many developing countries, the task of collecting clean drinking water can take hours, which can limit an individual’s potential to earn an income.

Because the task of collecting a family’s water often falls on women, both projects support OPIC’s 2X Women’s Initiative to empower women in developing countries.

“Thanks to OPIC’s landmark investment in WaterEquity’s $50 million flagship fund, 4.6 million people across India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines will secure access to safe water or sanitation,” said Alix Lebec, Executive Vice President of Investor Relations, WaterEquity. “We appreciate the trust and confidence that OPIC has placed in WaterEquity and its ability to drive positive social and financial impact.”

“WaterHealth International has been committed to improving access to safe and affordable drinking water for global consumers for over a decade,” said Sanjay Bhatnagar, WaterHealth International CEO. “We appreciate OPIC’s leadership and recognition of our potential to significantly impact the livelihood of all consumers, especially women.”

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The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.

OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.