Scaling WASH solutions


Share this story


Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse

Catalytic funding to manufacture WASH solutions

Splash International brings clean water, hygiene education, and improved sanitation to children living in urban poverty. Catalytic funding from the Autodesk Foundation helped Splash build a proof of concept for handwashing and drinking stations produced at scale, which led to $1.6 million in follow-on funding to bring the product to market.

Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions

Access to clean water is foundational to health and well-being, and without it, millions of people are exposed to preventable, often fatal illnesses. US nonprofit organization Splash International designs child-focused water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for some of the world’s biggest cities, including Kolkata and Addis Ababa.

Handwashing and drinking stations around the world are often costly to install, difficult to maintain, and overlook community needs. Splash’s first handwashing and drinking station designs followed the norm—they were made from concrete, tile, and fiberglass, which are not easy to replicate or maintain.

Three students use handwashing station

Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse

Building a proof of concept

Splash and the Autodesk Foundation collaborated to scale a design-forward, replicable WASH solution by combining Splash’s knowledge in handwashing and drinking stations with the Autodesk Foundation’s philanthropic funding and design and engineering expertise.

“We had limited design and manufacturing expertise on staff, so the Autodesk Foundation acted as part of our team.”

Cyndie Berg, Chief Partnerships Officer, Splash

From prototype to mass manufacture

From 2017 to 2021, Splash received funding to create and sell transformative stations for the WASH sector. This has resulted in the design of both a plastic handwashing and drinking station in just one year, mass manufacturing of 3,600 handwashing and drinking stations for schools in Kolkata and Addis Ababa, and an established social enterprise model to scale distribution.

In addition to funding, in-kind support like Autodesk software and Autodesk pro bono consulting and interns were integral to Splash’s successful design and manufacturing process.

student washes hands with soap

Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse

“The Autodesk Foundation’s catalytic funding and technical support helped us prove we could manufacture a new product [a design-forward handwashing and drinking station]. Without that track record, we wouldn’t have had a proof of concept for new investors. If we can do it once we can do it again.”

Leslie Llado, Managing Director, Splash Social Enterprises

Follow-on funding for a scalable WASH solution

To date, Splash has installed 2,100 handwashing and drinking stations reaching 212,000 children across Addis Ababa and Kolkata. Early-stage, catalytic funding from the Autodesk Foundation allowed Splash to build their proof of concept of a scalable WASH solution. This proof of concept was key to Splash’s 2020 fundraising round of $1.6 million USD.

With this new capital, Splash started designing a new handwashing product for COVID-19 response that is more applicable to institutional settings like health care facilities and residential centers.

Now that Splash has proven it can design, create, mass manufacture, and sell an affordable, design-forward WASH solution with consistent funding, it’s ready to repeat the process to address the myriad needs of the WASH sector.

Three students wash hands

Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse

Reaching 1 million children by 2023

Globally, with 1.8 billion people lacking access to clean water, and 2.5 billion people lacking access to improved sanitation, there is still a long way to go for the WASH sector.

Together, Splash and the Autodesk Foundation have proven that design-forward, scalable solutions are not only possible, but scalable with the right combination of funding and expertise. Splash aims to reach nearly one million children by 2023 with its scalable, durable, cost-efficient handwashing and drinking stations.

Four students jump in air with glasses of water

Image courtesy of Mekbib Tadesse

The Autodesk Foundation and Splash timeline

  • Four handwashing and drinking stations

    In 2017, the Autodesk Foundation provided a grant of $100,000 and a software donation allowing Splash to launch the design process for improved handwashing and drinking stations. In 2018, a renewal grant of $150,000 and an Autodesk impact intern enabled Splash to finalize the designs and molds for plastic, rotationally molded handwashing and drinking stations.

  • Students and teachers from a Spash education program in Ethiopia

    In 2019, the Autodesk Foundation provided a $200,000 renewal grant where Splash began production of the updated handwashing and drinking stations. In 2020, Autodesk technical training and pro bono consulting support enabled Splash’s team to onboard two new manufacturers remotely. This propelled Splash to manufacture 3,600 handwashing and drinking stations. That same year, Splash launched and met their $1.6 million fundraising round to reach nearly 1 million children with WASH solutions by 2023.

  • Three students wash hands

    In 2021, the Autodesk Foundation awarded Splash a $300,000 grant and provided pro bono consulting on the WASH station installation manual, supporting them in the design and distribution of handwashing stations for institutional settings.