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Inspired Innovators

The Inspired Innovators below are all active in helping the world. They all contribute in different ways. Some by actively supporting charities through contributions, while others actively get involved. ALL of them are examples of being part of the solution. Most of the information was gleaned from the entries on Wikipedia web site. Most of the additional photos were acquired through Mayflower (click below to view each entry).

  • PlayPumps®Water System &ndash Organization, which provides clean water to remote areas in Africa through children playing on a roundabout





Children in Africa playing on roundabout, which pumps water into a holding tank

We had heard about the play pumps in Africa some time ago and wanted to acknowledge this brilliant, but simple idea to bring clean water to remote villages in Africa. The story of the play pumps is a fascinating tale of inspiration. On the web site is the history and development of the PlayPump® Water System. In their own words they say:
One summer day in 1989, on a whim, Trevor Field and his father-in-law visited an agricultural fair outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. There they stumbled upon an inspirational machine with the potential to transform millions of lives.

Nestled among displays of giant produce, superior animals and farm equipment they discovered a child’s roundabout, or merry-go-round, attached to a water pump. As it turned, water pumped from beneath the ground into the field. This simple pump was being displayed by an engineer and professional borehole-driller, who dreamt of designing a tool that would both delight and help the rural children who often gathered to watch his drilling machinery at work, children who had boundless energy and few outlets for play.

As Trevor, a veteran advertising executive spun the idea around in his head; he saw how to turn this simple pump into a more complex water system. He pictured adding a high-capacity water storage tank and four billboard spaces for both advertising and powerful public education messages. Where everyone else saw a merry-go-round that pumped water, Trevor saw advertising billboards that pumped water. Suddenly, Trevor turned this simple pump into an innovative, sustainable, child-friendly answer to one of the region’s most pressing problems, the need for more clean drinking water.

For collaboration, Trevor reached out to his longtime business colleagues, Paolo Ristic and Sarel Nienaber. Together they licensed the concept from its inventor and launched Roundabout Outdoor, a company with a social mission, dedicated to this new product, the PlayPump® water system. They revised the pump’s features and created a business plan. Their innovative business model would use donations to underwrite the merry-go-round pump head, with its sealed water storage tank, water tap stand, concrete water spillage runoff and borehole, melding those with advertising revenue to fund maintenance, guaranteeing sustainability. The PlayPump water pumping system was born.

At first, it was a small venture. Trevor’s wife – a therapist, not an engineer herself -- oversaw the first two pump installations in 1994 in South Africa’s Masinga District, the most remote area of KwaZulu-Natal Province, simply because Trevor couldn’t spare the travel days from his regular job. Umgeni Water Company sponsored the manufacture and installation of the pump; Colgate-Palmolive advertised toothpaste on the storage tank’s boards. By 1997, almost nine years after discovering the pump and creating the system, they had installed 20 PlayPump systems in South Africa, with plans to install 50 more.

The turning point for the PlayPump “system came late in 1999. President Nelson Mandela attended the ceremonial opening of a new school with a new PlayPump system.” When that story hit the newspapers, Roundabout Outdoor picked up speed.

Early in 2000, Roundabout Outdoor won the prestigious World Bank Development Marketplace Award for its ability to deliver both water and powerful HIV/AIDS prevention messages. The funds and visibility from the award enabled the PlayPump system to scale up at a much faster rate. Roundabout Outdoor created a South African NGO to facilitate partnerships with corporations, foundations, governments and individuals; that organization is now called PlayPumps International and is also incorporated as a U.S. nonprofit organization.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provided PlayPumps International with its first large grant, stipulating that it raise matching funds through the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. PlayPumps International quickly forged this partnership, intent on helping the Ministry fulfill its goal to deliver water to all of South Africa by 2008. Eskom, the South African electricity supply company, also came on board. Together, Eskom, the Water Affairs Department, and Roundabout Outdoor won a Mail & Guardian. Investing in the Future Award in 2003 as a best-practices example of a partnership offering innovation and social relevance. In 2005, the Alcan Prize for Sustainability recognized Roundabout Outdoor as one of its top 10 finalists.

PlayPumps International and the Roundabout team are now “expanding their reach.” More than 900 PlayPump systems have been installed in South Africa, Mozambique, “Swaziland,” and Zambia. “Moving into new countries is proving the viability of the PlayPump® water system and business model for sub-Saharan Africa.

In the coming years, PlayPumps International and Roundabout Outdoor will expand operations in Southern Africa. “More countries in East Africa will follow. In total, 4000 PlayPump water” systems will bring the benefits of clean drinking water to up to “10 million people in 10 countries by 2010, enabling improvements in health, education, gender equality and economic development.
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