WASH Products, Made in Ethiopia: Great for Health and Good for the Economy


When efforts to improve health outcomes also give a boost to the economy, who can argue with the results?  This is the advantage of a market development approach, which, through partnerships, aims to increase domestic production of goods while simultaneously expanding customer options at lower prices.  USAID Transform WASH (T/WASH) recently teamed up with Splash Social Enterprise (SSE) in Ethiopia to do just that. 

Splash is known for designing — with users – innovative and attractive water, sanitation, and hygiene products that people want to use and maintain. Splash also seeks to produce facilities that can be sold at economical prices that fit within tight budgets. SSE was formed to ensure market-driven, sustainable supply of products by harnessing the power of local manufacturers and distribution systems. Before making a leap to invest in a market like Ethiopia, however, Splash needed in-country knowledge and support.

That’s where T/WASH came in. SSE approached T/WASH as their team was developing a long-term plan for producing WASH facilities for institutional customers like schools and health clinics. With our team of experienced business development advisors, T/WASH provided guidance on a whole host of pertinent issues, beginning with a comprehensive assessment of plastics manufacturers that could handle the specifications and methods required to produce Splash-designed products at high quality. Once SSE and PSI identified a suitable producer, Avon Plastics, the social enterprise needed additional support to forge a formal partnership agreement that met both local and international legal standards that protected both parties’ interests. Finally, T/WASH helped SSE explore and understand legal registration policies and procedures that facilitated smooth establishment of operations in the country.

Handwashing station designed by Splash for installation in schools

The manufacturing partnership has started producing results. After reaching an agreement with Avon, SSE initiated shipping of manufacturing molds for its first products, handwashing and drinking water stations, to be manufactured in Ethiopia. Avon agreed to produce product samples using these molds within three days, and the product prototypes recently rolled off the production line for testing. With some SSE feedback, Avon is improving the products, so they can be readied for scaled up production that meets Splash’s and customer standards.

Splash’s plan for the first phase of distribution is to install stations at 56 schools in Bahirdar, a promising market entry for both SSE and Avon Plastics. This is just the beginning of a partnership that has great potential to improve health while building a market for a new class of products – all produced locally, contributing to a growing Ethiopian economy.

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