Beth Koigi, Africa Prize alumna and CEO of Majik Water, talks to us about her innovation, impact and inspiration. Majik Water was founded by three women who were drawn together by a shared vision of a world where every person has access to clean drinking water.
Can you briefly describe your innovation and tell us what inspired you to create it?
Majik Water specialises in air to water technologies in arid and semi-arid regions. In 2016 to 2017, Kenya experienced one of the longest droughts the country has suffered, which saw most places facing water rationing. At the same time, Cape Town was approaching day zero, the day the city is forced to shut off taps to homes and businesses because reservoirs have reached perilously low levels.
It is hard enough when you have water that is unsafe to drink and cannot afford a filter, but it is even harder when you do not to have enough water to filter at all. I started looking for other ways to solve water scarcity in Kenya.
I met my co-founders at the Global Solutions Program held at the NASA Ames Research Centre, Singularity University. We were three women, each from a different continent who shared the same vision, a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water.
What impact did the Africa Prize have on your business?
The Africa Prize training came at a time when Majik Water was undergoing a lot of transitions and we benefited a lot from the programme. The mentorship and training support, which varied from mentors offering pro-bono advice to learning how to put systems into place, helped us focus on business and innovation development. Majik Water benefited from the expertise of the Academy’s network of engineers and entrepreneurs around the world, securing a project with a Fortune 500 company within the first few months of joining the programme. This network is still beneficial to Majik Water to date.
What stage are you at now and what are your next steps?
Currently we are in the process of raising an early-stage round of investment. We are planning to expand our team and operations in Kenya. We are also testing our new business models in the market.
What impact has your innovation had so far?
So far, we have installed 10 of our devices across three countries including Kenya, South Africa and India. This includes 1,000 litre machines for industrial use to 25 litre units for families. We have also partnered with corporations that want to improve their sustainable footprint, such as the AB-InBev Brewery in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We have worked with NGOs to distribute four units to schools in Mandera and donated another to a children’s home in Thika. We also received a £15,000 grant from the Academy to expand operations, which has been used to install a Majik Water unit in a paediatric clinic in Turkana. In total we have 1500 users.
Tell us about your recent feature in the Netflix documentary, Brave Blue World.
In 2020, Majik Water was featured in the Netflix documentary, Brave Blue World, which explored new technologies solving the world’s water crisis and introduced the innovation to a global audience.
It came as a surprise to us to see how well and widely the documentary was received! We experienced a lot of inquiries and interest from clients and collaborators, stemming from the documentary. This opened a lot of doors for us and gave us lots of recognition and validation.
What one tip for success would you give to your fellow innovators?
Innovating is scary. Essentially, you are making decisions that may or may not fail and which may or may not hijack your entire career. This is why so many companies go for the safer option of sitting on their existing business models or validating solutions instead of trying to challenge the status quo. The world’s best innovators embrace the fear of the unknown.