On March 29th, the IE Net Impact Club hosted a seminar on Changing the Way We See Water: from a Social, Entrepreneurship & Big Data point of view, to conclude World Water month.
This year, IE students were taken on a two-week virtual journey to understand:
a) The Problem: posters across campus provided facts & figures related to water scarcity on a global scale.
b) How it Affects Us: In order to realise how these problems actually hit us so close to home, IE students were encouraged to think of a personal story about how waterrelated issues have personally affected them and their countries of origin in video testimonials.
c) The Solution: finally, we scouted for examples of entrepreneurs who have taken real action to tackle water sustainability problems, in addition to any trends at the frontiers of technology i.e. the use of Big Data that have revolutionised water management systems.
The event brought together an excellent 4-person panel consisting of:
1. Diego Félez Armisen: Co-founder of The Water Van Project
An architect by degree and having worked at Amazon for 2 years, Diego shared the story of him and his 3 friends from Barcelona who quit the corporate world, raised funds for water filters and embarked on a 6-month adventure to provide access to clean water across Latin America, driving from Mexico to Peru. The Water Van Project has changed the lives of 15,000 people by providing them access to clean water for at least the next 12 years. Having returned to employment, this time at Facebook, Diego laid out how the team is currently working to develop the Water Van Project into a platform for volunteers interested in social impact, as a side project, planned to debut this summer.
2. Christina Stathopoulos: Expert Engineer in Project Development and Big Data at Nielsen
Originally from the US, Christina is an IE ambassador and alumni of the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data. Christina shared how the use of Big Data has led to a Revolution in Water Management, demonstrating how sensors & real-time monitoring, advanced analytics & predictive modeling, and image & pattern recognition are helping to decrease water waste and contamination, while facilitating better access to clean water around the world. Furthermore, inspiring examples of start-ups active in this field were provided as cases where entrepreneurship, big data and social impact are at work to better manage water e.g. Utilis, Emagin, PlutoAI and AquaSeca.
3. Ramon Lange: CEO Agua En Caja Mejor
Ramon Lange shared his entrepreneurial journey of founding his drinking-water company, Agua En Caja Mejor, which may be familiar to IE students as it’s carried by Do Eat in both MM31 and across MM11. Ramon started the company while doing his Executive MBA at IE and described the benefits of using 70% recyclable material in their carton packaging. He also explained how their business model, as opposed to generic plastic-bottled water companies, entails decreased plastic waste, decreased carbon footprint and the planting of new trees as a marketing tool.
4. Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros: CEO Auara
Antonio is co-founder and CEO of Auara, a social enterprise providing water bottles in 100% recycled plastic bottles. Antonio, also an architect by background, shared the risks, rewards and challenges that he has faced so far as a social entrepreneurial, starting his company in Spain from scratch.
Furthermore, he portrayed Auara’s vision and social goals to invest in projects that would improve access to clean water in some of the most impoverished regions in Ethiopia, where he has already visited four times initially to serve as a volunteer prior to founding his company, but also more recently to explore the possibilities and define projects to improve sanitation and access to clean water.
Finally, Mehrad Jaberansari and Matias Callieri, IMBA students from the January intake who organized the event, concluded by summarising the day’s learnings and encouraging their peers to take action for maximizing social impact in their future careers.
We are not all going to become social entrepreneurs. That is a fact; but this seminar has demonstrated various examples consisting of how we can still make significant impact a) on the side of our corporate careers, b) within our professional sphere e.g. if interested in working with big data; and c) to invest ourselves full-time to starting or joining a social enterprise. Surely, there are many other ways to have our impact, but as our water month social media campaign intended to ask, the question is, #wateryougonnado?
Looking forward to seeing you soon at our next Speaker Series events!
IE Net Impact Club