Skoll Foundation

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Gary White
Award Year: 2009
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Water and Sanitation

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More than 20 years ago, Gary committed himself to bringing safe water to those in the world who are without it. Gary’s entrepreneurial vision has driven innovations in the way clean-water projects are delivered and financed. Gary developed demand-driven water and sanitation programs, using microfinance to leverage financial resources from the bottom-up. These innovations now serve as a model in the sector.


  • Before launched WaterCredit in 2003, virtually all water and sanitation programs were charity-driven.
  • As of June 2014, there have been more than 329,443 WaterCredit loans made
  • has invested: $9.4 million in WaterCredit
  • WaterCredit has leveraged: an additional $62 million in commercial and social capital
  • People benefited directly from WaterCredit: 1.5 million
  • WaterCredit partners: 44 active partners
  • WaterCredit countries: 6 
  • Average WaterCredit loan size: $188
  • Women WaterCredit clients: 91%
  • WaterCredit global repayment rate (since 2007): 99%
  • WaterCredit loans made: $62 million
  • Women are key to sustainable water and sanitation programs. With’s grant-based projects, all local water committees have female members. With WaterCredit, women comprise 90% of all loan borrowers.
  • The benefits of WaterCredit are numerous, including:
    • Dollar for dollar, catalytic philanthropic investment enables the water and sanitation needs of more people to be met than with traditional grants because WaterCredit is designed to leverage additional commercial and social capital. This frees up grant capital to serve the poorest of the poor (for whom microcredit is not a viable solution).
    • Empowerment of female MFI clients and their families.
    • With access to water and sanitation via WaterCredit, time (which was previously spent fetching water and/or in ill health) can be spent on productive activities such as income generation and education.
    • WaterCredit borrowers are able to increase their families’ discretionary, disposable income due to cost savings of having a water and/or sanitation connection (rather than paying the local “water mafia” price).
    • WaterCredit borrowers and their families enjoy better health, as the spread of water-borne disease is reduced.
    • MFIs gain in-house water, sanitation, and hygiene expertise.
    • Small water- and sanitation-based enterprises can be developed over time.
    • Multiple Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are addressed simultaneously.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.