Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored by Carlos Hurtado, Manager of Sustainable Management of Water, and Priscilla Treviño, Head of Evaluation, Strategic Planning and Research, at FEMSA Foundation. FEMSA Foundation is the corporate foundation of FEMSA, a conglomerate that operates throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines and is the largest independent bottler of Coca Cola in the world, the owner of a fast-growing convenience store chain in Latin American, and a shareholder of Heineken.For over five years, FEMSA Foundation’s approach to corporate social investment has supported projects and research in the water and nutrition sector.
Investing in the social and environmental sector is not only a responsibility of the business sector; it is also strategic. This guiding principle provides the basis for FEMSA Foundation’s approach towards social investment.
Decision-making for increased effectiveness and efficiency
A corporate foundation has an interesting asset: familiarity with business-based practices and skills. Many of these skills and practices are useful for reducing uncertainty, increasing the likelihood of success, and identifying risks and opportunities for improvement for project design. Drawing on these strengths of the business sector, over the last year FEMSA Foundation has developed and piloted various tools to improve the decision-making processes related to its work in the social sector. One of the most useful has been an outcome and impact forecast methodology that the Foundation has developed for WASH projects.
In the WASH sector, as well as in many other social sectors, anticipating and quantifying the effects of a project is challenging. Diverse intervention strategies are deployed in different and evolving contexts which makes comparisons difficult. However, by making use of forecasting techniques similar to those employed by the business sector, FEMSA Foundation has found that the expected effects of WASH interventions over time can be described and quantified.
As a result of this methodology, FEMSA Foundation has identified triggers of success and social value for WASH projects. One of those is the social insertion component of a project which, based on data, impacts the sustainability of an intervention in the field. Specifically, community participation in decision-making processes, economic contributions from water users to install and sustain water access and infrastructure, and the training of water committees are now part of FEMSA Foundation’s strategy. Over 75% of the Foundation’s total investment in 2013 -- channeled towards various partners such as the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), Habitat for Humanity and the Avina Foundation -- is now backed up by a strong social insertion component. This has led to important efficiency gains. Under the enhanced social insertion strategy, average costs associated with community fieldwork have increased by 23%, but economically valuated benefits have increased by more than 60%.
Collaboration within the social sector
The gap between NGOs, with experience getting things done on the ground, and institutions with technical expertise useful for planning, implementing, and assessing an intervention can be wide. The Foundation is working towards narrowing this gap between the social sector and other actors interested in tackling social and environmental problems.
Over the past year, FEMSA Foundation has worked closely with social sector organizations, academic partners and business leaders to unify visions and to leverage strengths and expertise for the improved design and management of social projects. One of these projects is Water Links, FEMSA Foundation’s flagship program for WASH service delivery. Water Links is co-financed by MWA and Coca Cola Latin America and operates in México, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Nicaragua, where it will benefit more than 110,000 people by 2015.
As a regional and inter-institutional program, Water Links is an outstanding opportunity for exploring various approaches towards WASH-related challenges. Initially, the evaluation strategy for Water Links was set around traditional reporting back to the donor. However, because FEMSA Foundation is committed to improving its decision-making processes, there was strong support for the translation of the initial evaluation model into a framework that was sufficiently sound to identify solutions for WASH-related challenges and yet appropriate to deploy in the field. FEMSA Foundation facilitated this change of vision by mapping information needs for comprehensive learning, providing guidelines for data analysis based in business-oriented practices, and offering technical expertise to enrich the evaluation model. Water Links also engaged with academia to address the benefits to the WASH sector and redesign instruments for data gathering. Finally, technical insight from MWA, the organization that works most closely on project implementation, ensured that the strategy proposed considered the challenges and realities faced in the field.
As a result of this collaboration, Water Links now has a sound monitoring, evaluation and learning model (MEL Framework). The Framework aims to capture relevant findings from the ground during the lifetime of the program through a continuous cycle of activities and instruments that will document the effectiveness of various WASH models of interventions, revealing good practices and pointing out implementation challenges.
The MEL Framework, which is set to begin its activities on the ground in May, 2014, has turned Water Links into much more than the materials and activities paid for and implemented on field. It is now a program that is able to evolve to ensure sustainable benefits as well as an instrument to learn from and transform the way FEMSA Foundation and other interested actors work for the better.
The H&M Conscious Foundation, the Stockholm-based philanthropic arm of clothing retailer H&M, has announced grants totaling SEK 180 million (approximately $27.9 million) to three international relief organizations in support of early education initiatives, efforts to improve access to clean water, and initiatives to strengthen women's rights around the world.
The grants include $9.3 million to WaterAid and its local partners in support of efforts to deliver safe water, functioning sanitation, and hygiene education programs to schools in the developing world. In addition to providing immediate and long-term improvements to health and education, the initiative is expected to influence national and international policies related to individuals’ rights to safe water and sanitation.
"WaterAid is honored to team up with the H&M Conscious Foundation to support real, life-long impact for people living in extreme poverty," said WaterAid America CEO David Winder. "When it comes to ensuring that both girls and boys have an equal chance to grow up healthy and reach their greatest potential, safe water, toilets and hygiene education at school can make all the difference in the world. The generous support of the H&M Conscious Foundation will go a long way in helping WaterAid achieve the goal of making safe water and sanitation available to everyone, everywhere by the year 2030."
The foundation also awarded $9.3 million to UNICEF in support of the humanitarian organization's effort to place early childhood development on the global agenda and enable more children to achieve their developmental potential; and $9.3 million to CARE in support of its work to empower women economically and within various relationships that shape their lives. Among other things, CARE will use the funds to organize five regional campaigns to raise awareness about the structural hurdles and myths that prevent women from reaching their potential and provide a hundred thousand women in developing countries with access to tools, knowledge, and financial resources.
"I congratulate the H&M Conscious Foundation for choosing to support programs in three areas that are critical to sustainable development," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special advisor to the UN secretary-general on the Millennium Development Goals. "The donation can contribute to big breakthroughs in each area."
"H&M Conscious Foundation Supports UNICEF, WaterAid and CARE With SEK 180 Million." H&M Conscious Foundation Press Release 02/11/2014.
"WaterAid and H&M Conscious Foundation Join Forces to Bring Safe Water, Toilets, and Hygiene to Schools." WaterAid Press Release 02/11/2014.
"CARE, H&M Conscious Foundation Announce Global Partnership to Empower Women." CARE Press Release 02/11/2014.
Editor’s Note: In the upcoming months, the WASHfunders blog will feature the work of corporate foundations active in the WASH sector. The series coincides with the release of WASH Advocates’ Navigating the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector: A Guide for Corporate Grantmakers. If you are affiliated with a corporate foundation and are interested in submitting a blog post for the series, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With several recent high-profile grants in support of WASH from Ikea Foundation and the Caterpillar Foundation, among others, corporations are an increasingly visible source of funding for the WASH sector. In recognition of the important and unique role corporations can play in supporting WASH efforts, a new guide from WASH Advocates provides a landscape of corporate involvement in the sector and serves as a useful resource for both new and established corporate funders.
The guide documents critical needs and issues in the WASH sector and identifies opportunities for corporate involvement -- from ensuring that employees have access to safe water and hygiene in the workplace to investing in WASH projects through a grantmaking portfolio.
With a list of nearly 30 different corporate funders active in the space, the guide highlights various WASH initiatives supported by corporations, including:
- Dow Chemical’s investments in WASH technologies, such as International Aid’s plastic biosand water filters and WaterHealth International’s community-level water purification systems.
- Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) project, the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, which aims to bring safe water to children in developing countries through the use of the P&G Purifier of Water (formerly PUR).
- Xylem Watermark’s support for Water For People and sponsorship of the Stockholm International Institute’s World Water Week.
As the host of the WASH Grantmakers Network, an affinity group for philanthropic organizations focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), WASH Advocates offers pro bono guidance and advice to corporate grantmakers and other private donors interested in helping to address the global water and sanitation crisis. The Grantmakers Network works closely with WASHfunders.org to provide resources for new and established funders, including a jointly developed Funder Toolkit. For more information about the Network, contact Ben Mann at bmann@WASHadvocates.org or 571-225-5823.
Water.org has announced a $8.3 million grant — the largest single funding commitment in its history — from the Caterpillar Foundation to expand its WaterCredit initiative to Indonesia, the Philippines, and Peru.
Using microfinance tools, the WaterCredit initiative makes it possible for a family living in poverty to secure a small loan to pay for construction of a water connection or toilet in their home. The expansion of the program will draw on a diverse network of local partners, including commercial financial institutions, microfinance institutions, and nongovernmental organizations working in the water and sanitation space.
The funding commitment from the foundation, the philanthropic arm of Caterpiller, Inc., builds on an earlier $3 million grant to scale the initiative in India. The funds will enable Water.org to accelerate the impact of its efforts in the developing world and will provide nearly five hundred thousand people with access to safe water and sanitation.
"Having household access to clean, running water not only keeps families healthy and productive, it gives back countless hours to girls and women that they can use to further their education or start a business," said Caterpillar Foundation president Michele Sullivan. "The ancillary benefits of convenient access to clean water are staggering."
Source:“Caterpillar Foundation Expands Partnership With Water.org.” Water.org Press Release 10/17/13.
In an effort to improve the health and productivity of their employees worldwide, several large multinational companies have signed the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) “Pledge for Access to Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Workplace.”
WBCSD’s pledge calls on companies to provide access to WASH for employees across the globe within three years and already counts a number of big names in business as participants. Companies such as Nestle, Grief, Borealis AG, EDF, Deloitte LLP, Roche Group, Unilever, and the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) are among the current signatories and the WBCSD is calling on more business leaders to sign on.
The pledge recognizes that billions of people live without access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation and reflects a commitment to WBCSD’s Vision 2050, which envisions nine billion people living well within the limits of the planet.
The pledge’s initial focus is to provide access to WASH for those directly employed by participating companies. In the long term, the intention is to promote access for all workers along the value chain and, ultimately, improve WASH access in the communities in which they live.
The WBCSD’s Water Working Group, the pledge’s originator, has an international membership of approximately 60 companies and 18 regional network partners. More details about the pledge — and the business incentives associated with improved access to WASH — can be found here. Read the full pledge and guiding principles.
The Coca-Cola Company has announced a $3.5 million commitment to the United States Water Partnership, a public-private partnership launched on World Water Day 2012 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Announced at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, the partnership is designed to unite American expertise, knowledge, and resources and mobilize those assets to address global water challenges, with a focus on the developing world. Awarded through the company's Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), the funding will support water access programs in countries with the most significant needs, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Somaliland. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola will contribute $3 million toward a wide range of sustainable water access activities in those countries, including efforts to expand water access in informal urban settlements and in hospitals and promote multiple uses of water that empower women.
The remaining $500,000 will support USWP's efforts to transfer additional resources to African countries characterized as high-need in terms of access to clean water and sanitation. USWP also will make learnings from the RAIN initiative available to the global water sector.
"Access to safe water is essential for our company and our world," said Coca-Cola chief sustainability officer Bea Perez. "The sustainability of water resources is a top priority at the Coca-Cola Company. We are honored to support the USWP while being a catalyst for sustainable water access solutions in Africa."
Source: “The Coca-Cola Company Commits $3.5 Million to U.S. Water Partnership.” Coca-Cola Company Press Release 6/21/12.
Unilever, a multinational conglomerate based in the United Kingdom and Netherlands, has announced the launch of a global foundation that will work to improve the quality of life for people around the globe through the provision of improved hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, and basic nutrition.
Announced last month at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the Unilever Foundation has formed partnerships with Oxfam, Population Services International, Save the Children, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme to accomplish its mission. The foundation also will provide direct funding, in-kind donations, expertise, and employee support to other organizations around the globe that are working to address country-specific challenges aligned with its goals.
For example, the foundation's partnership with Oxfam will focus on programs that empower individuals and deliver good nutrition and clean drinking water, while its support for PSI will target efforts designed to improve the health of children and families through behavioral change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water, and sanitation. Save the Children will use funds from the foundation to increase access to health workers, life-saving vaccines, and high-impact health and nutrition programs, while UNICEF will focus on expanding its Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) initiative, a program that promotes good hygiene practices and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis in the developing world. Last but not least, WFP will partner with the foundation to boost Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a scalable, sustainable model to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
"We live in a rapidly changing world. One where populations are growing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and where food security is a growing issue," said Unilever chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed. "Unilever is committed to addressing the unmet social needs that our business can play a unique role in helping to solve....Together with our partners, we will deliver life-saving solutions as we work toward achieving these ambitious goals."
Source: “Unilever Launches Global Foundation.” Unilever Press Release 1/27/12.
For additional WASH-related philanthropy news, see the news feed on WASHfunders.org.