Social enterprises are businesses that reinvest the money they make back into their business and socially and environmentally beneficial projects.

To find out more, check out Social Enterprise UK, the world’s leading organisation for social enterprises.

We love water! We want to generate a positive wave of ongoing projects that are dedicated to clean water. The surpluses that we generate as a company are reinvested into new community drinking water projects, hence the clean water wave keeps on rolling.

We are dedicated to technologies that can deliver clean & safe drinking water, and we also realise the linkages between the whole of the world’s water system: contaminated water that people rely upon for drinking also means contaminated rivers, aquifers and oceans. Our CAFE filter can also be used for aquifer replenishment (i.e. the clean water after filtration can be returned to the groundwater or surface water supply) so, by cleaning up water for drinking we are also having a positive effect cleaning up the whole of the earth’s water systems.

Clean Aqua For Everyone

The CAFE system runs on a small solar powered pump, is gravity-fed and backwashes automatically. It uses next to no energy and doesn’t require any chemicals to function. It is designed to be extremely robust and because it doesn’t have any electrical control panels or complicated moving parts the CAFE is very unlikely to break down, can withstand extreme environments, and can be managed by someone that has limited technical know-how.

The CAFE will remove parasites, arsenic and bacteria – and can take grossly contaminated water and filter it to water that is safe to drink and doesn’t taste funny!

CAFE uses Activated Filter Media (AFM) as its filter media instead of sand. AFM is produced by Dryden Aqua and is made from recycled glass. Using AFM means that the CAFE system is optimised for best performance: AFM is a highly engineered product that – unlike sand – will never allow dirty, unfiltered water to pass through it. You can find out more about AFM from Dryden Aqua.

Our CAFE filter can also be used for aquifer replenishment (i.e. the clean water after filtration can be returned to the groundwater or surface water supply) so, by cleaning up water for drinking we are also having a positive effect cleaning up the whole of the earth’s water systems.

There are five key elements that make our system different to others on the market:

  • the CAFE is extremely robust, meaning it is unlikely to malfunction even in the harshest of environments
  • it is very simple tech, and is easy for non-engineers to understand and manage
  • it uses the world’s leading filtration media, AFM, which significantly outperforms sand
  • has an in-built solar/titanium system for easy disinfection of filtered water
  • and will be delivered with training and a simple training manual.


All of these factors mean the CAFE system is not only excellent at filtering water but is maintainable and resilient – a truly sustainable system for rural communities.

We want to work with any organisation that has a passion for getting clean & safe drinking water to communities that need it, either to fund our projects or to deliver the CAFE systems in-country.

We know that filtering water isn’t enough, and it must go hand-in-hand with good sanitation and hygiene (often described as water and sanitation and hygiene, or WASH). So, organisations that work to improve all elements of WASH are especially of interest… and even more so if the organisations are passionate about developing local social enterprises too!

We will work with in-country partners to deliver the CAFE, install it to the CAFE specifications, and train up local entrepreneurs to manage the filter and sell clean water. We are working on a mobile phone-based system for selling the water (using mobile money) and on an app-based training manual that is image-based and easy to understand.

No. We are making it much easier and affordable for communities to get safe potable water.

It is well-researched that the worlds most impoverish communities are often paying much higher rates for drinking water than wealthy ones. A WaterAid report in 2016 showed that whilst the average water bill in developed countries is around 0.1% of a person earning minimum wages, in many developing countries low income people are paying between 10% and 50% of their daily income on water.

Often, that’s because the infrastructure doesn’t exist to get piped water to remote communities and because governments can’t afford to build filtration systems. So people resort to using ponds and rivers for water, and buying very expensive bottled water or water from vendors that charge extortionate rates because they know people will pay a lot for drinking water.

Clean Water Wave & our partners ensure that the CAFE filtered water costs are affordable* to each local community where the CAFE is, so that people will be able to get access to clean & safe drinking water at much fairer rates than the current status quo.

*The UN states that affordable water is that which does not exceed 3% of household income.

We are trialling the CAFE in Bangladesh, Kenya, India, Brazil, and the UK. Have a look at our pilots page to find out more.

At the moment, we are looking to work in rural and semi-urban communities that have chronic problems getting access to potable water, and where the local population is <2,000 people. The CAFE system can work with surface or ground water.

We are based in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. Currently, our home is the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI). The ECCI has a great collective of interesting companies doing really innovative work in the world of energy, water, and sustainability – all of whom are dedicated to a low carbon economy.

Water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are all fundamental to ensuring health. It’s great to be able to drink clean & safe water, but if your hands are dirty or the bucket you collect water in is contaminated then the water you end up drinking might not be as clean and safe as it was when you collected it, and contamination is much more likely is you have poor sanitation (toileting) facilities and practices.

This means that we want to work with in-country partners that understand all elements of WASH.

Integrated, or whole, approaches to WASH are vital to ensuring health and productive communities. This multi-layered, integrated approach to development is a fundamental part of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and we are committed to helping deliver these goals. You can find out more about the SDGs here.

Water is essential – we need it to survive. Quite simply, if we drink contaminated water we get sick. The same is true for our animals. If you’re always drinking contaminated water, you will never be fully healthy.

In addition to drinking it, we wash with it and keep ourselves clean; we need it for food production (for agriculture and for farming), as well as for industry.

Water may look clean but might not be safe: it could be polluted with chemicals that are invisible to the naked eye. Groundwater pumps often produce water that appears clean but is actually contaminated – the problems with arsenic contamination in South Asia is a great example of this. Have a read of this report about ‘the largest mass poisoning of a population in history’ to find out more.

Industry, agriculture and population growth are all contributing to stresses on the global water supply (i.e. the quantity available) and well as the quality of water. Industrial waste, high concentration of pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics and organic compounds in water supplies – in our rivers, oceans, and in water stored below ground – all mean that the global water cycle is more polluted than ever before.

And this pollution ends up in our drinking water and food chains. Caring about clean and safe drinking water means caring about the health of ourselves and of our planet. Check out the GOESFoundation for more information about the impact of water pollution.

Lots of ways!

  • Donate to help us fund a CAFE system for a community that needs clean & safe drinking water
  • If you’re an organisation that works with communities in WASH, or are a community-based organisation, and are interested in the social enterprise approach to managing safe drinking water, get in touch
  • Lend your expertise in WASH and/or social enterprise to our lead team
  • Are you an informatics specialist and/or app developer? Help us develop mobile-money systems
  • Are you a graphics person? Can you help us develop the training modules?
  • Help spread the word! Follow us on Twitter (@cleanwaterwave), tell people about what we’re doing, show them our website J