Low cost water testing as a commercial service -- A request for comments


SELCO, a social entrepreneurship business which has a strong presence in solar lighting is evaluating the possibility of low cost water testing as a business model. 

They are requesting for inputs from water sector practitioners on the viability of such a business. The following are some notes about it:


Need for Water Testing


•Polluted Drinking water leads to health problems such as Cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis both in rural and urban areas. 

•A regular check on the quality of drinking water would ensure that people don’t fall sick to water-borne diseases. This saves the cost of medication and hospitalization, and the opportunity cost of inactivity due to illness. 

•Commercially, water used for irrigation must be checked for certain parameters such as salinity to ensure good quality of crops. Similar commercial testing opportunities can be identified.

Water testing as a service

•An affordable (Rs 10-30 per test) doorstep service in both rural and urban areas. 

•Testing executive visits local household with a portable testing machine such as PolySense Aqua (owned or rented from a local entrepreneur), test the drinking water and provide instant results to the customer. 

•A monthly, quarterly or yearly service contract with the customer depending upon the quality of water will optimize the operations cost.

Potential Customers and Benefits



oKnowledge on the potability of drinking water, followed by suitable action to purify it (if needed).

oAdvice by the testing executive on locally available purification systems/methods, especially in rural areas, in case the water is not potable.

•Restaurants/ Hawkers selling chats, fruit juices: 

oDisplay in the premises or carts that their water is tested by SELCO will increase the number of customers coming to the hawkers/restaurants because people generally avoid street hawkers and small restaurants due to water concerns.

•Community Areas/ Organizations: Railway Stations, Temples, Big Bus Stands, Shopping Malls, Schools, Colleges, NGOs, orphanages etc… 

oAs these organizations/ areas serve drinking water to masses of people, water testing will ensure good health of their visitors and inmates.

•Slums: Help in tackling the big problem of polluted drinking water in slums.

•Water purification companies:

oPublished reports to these companies will give them access to vital water quality data of rural regions. They can manufacture custom made products for different regions. SELCO can have a revenue sharing model with them where in SELCO gets a fixed % of sale from each product sold.


As a socially conscious business, SELCO would appreciate your input on the above. Please leave a comment or mail anandpnarayan@selco-india.com 




November 25, 2009 12:00AM