The inaugural‘ Golden Business Forum’ organised by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) on Friday ended on a good note with Affordable Human Needs (AHN) making an investment commitment in Rwanda.
Affordable Human Needs, a for-profit organisation based out of the United States, announced that it was looking to invest up to $13 million in the country for a medium to long term period.
Walter Lillo, the company’s President said the investment will boost water access, affordable housing, and clean energy.
“We have established that about 2.6 million households in Rwanda don’t have access to clean water. We want to play our part and support 900,000,” he said.
“If Rwanda sets an example and gets its people clean water, we believe that will have a ripple effect throughout the world,” he added.
The company said it was looking to introduce its innovative products to the local market. They already operate in Taiwan.
They are specifically looking to introduce their water filters to economically disadvantaged societies, which they say are cheap and can allow communities to access clean water.
AHN water filters remove various harmful bacteria, protozoa, and parasites that cause serious health problems like cholera, botulism, typhoid, and diarrhea, among others.
Their water filter kits, they say, are sold at $15 compared to the price of $30 to $49 at which other kits are sold.
Joyce Kung, the Founder and Executive Director of AHN, told Sunday Times that they are not driven by high-profit margins.
“Our mission is to provide affordable human needs that improve the health and lives of poor people, “ she noted.
Kung worked in Rwanda for seven years, running charity activities that provided clean water to communities.
But somehow, Kung realised ‘charity’ was good but that there was a need to do business to develop people’s talents and skills.
“The first time I came to Rwanda was in 2006 and we were doing church missions supporting the poor, but seven years later we realised there was a need to develop real products for people,” she said.
The company said one of the key projects they are pursuing beyond providing clean water is building affordable houses in the country.
The President said they were in the process to introduce clean houses using one of the popular construction building technologies that will allow people to own affordable houses.
The clean house uses earthbag building technology, making them stronger and resistant to natural hazards like earthquakes.
This kind of technology has been used before in Nepal, the biggest earthquake zone in the world.
Walter said you could drive a truck into well-built earthbag building and it will just damage the truck or crack the plaster on the building.
“We look at that as a game-changer.”
Rwanda envisions achieving a 35 per cent urbanisation rate by 2020, and experts say this directly calls for serious thinking into new housing strategies to curb the challenges of lack of appropriate housing.
A ‘Housing Market Study’ conducted in 2012 for the City of Kigali showed that 340,000 new dwelling units are needed each year.
Out of these, 86 per cent should be affordable housing and mid-range housing, and 13 per cent social housing while only less than 1 per cent will be premium housing.