$100,000 Fellowship Grant Awarded to Boston Visionary Kate Cincotta
BOSTON, MASS. (Issued Fall 2016) — Native villagers in the African country of
Ghana use the Dagboni word saha to mean ‘opportunity.’
Unfortunately, there hadn’t been much opportunity to use that word in most of the
country’s rural areas until the arrival of visionary humanitarian Kate (Clopeck)
Cincotta in 2008 with co-founder of Saha Global (www.sahaglobal.org
(http://www.sahaglobal.org/) ), fellow MIT graduate Vanessa Green. Though launched
and based in Boston, Mass., Saha Global’s frontline work is entirely in Ghana, 7,770
miles away. A small Boston staff handles volunteer recruitment and fundraising.
Saha provides cheap, clean drinking water to people living in rural communities by
training women how to take advantage of the resources available to them and donating
the capital that they need to start a clean water business. To date, Saha has
launched 93 water businesses in Ghana. 100% are still in operation.
The Vision: A Better Life for Children
In recognition of her work, the Mulago Foundation of San Francisco chose Cincotta to
join its prestigious Fall 2016 Rainer Arnhold Fellows Programwhere participants
“focus on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them. Saha is receiving two
$50,000 grants — a total of $100,000 over two years. Founded in 1993, Mulago
carries on the work of pediatrician/philanthropist Rainer Arnhold, “to bring a
better life for children in poverty… (to support) organizations that tackle a
basic need of the very poor, have a scalable solution, and know how to deliver it.”
That’s exactly us!” smiles Cincotta, pointing to the organization’s motto, ‘Solving
problems with opportunities.’The course brought Fellows and faculty together for an
intensive week to work on design for maximum impact and scalability. Held in
Bolinas, California, the course gave Fellows the rare opportunity to focus
completely on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them.
What caught the attention of Mulago? Cincotta says it’s Saha’s 100% success rate,
simple approach, and commitment to long-term monitoring and evaluation.
Creating A Permanent Source of Clean Water
Cincotta says, “Saha is the first water organization selected by Mulago for the
Fellows program. We both believe that Saha cannot only serve the poorest of the
poor, but we also have the potential to scale. The key is simplicity. Our water
treatment centers use all locally available, affordable, low-tech products. It costs
Saha less than $12 to provide a permanent source of clean water to one person. Other
organizations average around $20 – 25 per person.”
Reflecting on the course, Cincitta says, “Mulago is different than any other funder
we’ve had. They are a true partner in every sense of the word. They want to work
with us to help us grow and achieve maximum impact, and understand that there will
be challenges along the way.”
She adds, “We’re really proud of the impact we’ve had so far: Over 45,000 people in
Ghana now have permanent access to safe drinking water.” But there are 800,000 in
Northern Region Ghana who still lack access to clean water. Fueled by its
partnership with Mulago, Saha’s goal is to rapidly scale in northern Ghana, doubling
its impact by 2018, to reach over 400,000 people in the next 5 years.
Still Facing Tough Challenges
Saha Global certainly chose two of Ghana’s toughest challenges: (1) There’s a very
high risk of food or waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid
fever; and (2) The biggest single economic issue is the lack of consistent
electricity. Things are improving slowly, though average life expectancy is just 66
years, per capita income is $4,300, and the 2015 inflation rate was 17%.
Green and Cincotta understood that the water needs in Ghana were not due to a lack
of technical solutions. “We knew the challenge lay in the implementation of those
solutions in the field. We developed a durable implementation model,
community-scale, low-tech, social enterprise approach that formed the foundation of
Saha Global’s model.” They raised funds to pilot the idea from the Public Service
Center at MIT, then headed back to Ghana in 2008 to found Saha Global.
In another project, Saha is teaching local entrepreneurs how to collect solar energy
to light lanterns so children can study at night, and to charge cell phones – also
for a small profit.
Twice each year, Saha Global recruits and trains scores of college students in
‘social entrepreneurship. Volunteers spend three weeks in Ghana villages helping to
set up micro-businesses. In each village, the chief designates two women to learn
how to chlorinate water and sell it to fellow villagers for a small profit.
College students interested in being Field Reps in Ghana can learn more at the Saha
Global website. Saha Global also seeks individual donations, Corporate Partners and
Field Rep Sponsors. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
(mailto:email@example.com) or visit www.sahaglobal.org
(http://www.sahaglobal.org/) . As a 501(c)(3) organization, donations are
tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law. Donations may be made online or via check
made out to Saha Global, and mailed to 26 West Broadway #302, Boston, MA 02127.