Water treatment is performed in order to improve water quality. The processes employed for water treatment depend on the quality of the water supply. In all cases, water has to be disinfected in order to deactivate any existing microorganisms present in water. The objective is to reduce the pollutants to prevent the threat to the environment and human health. I got introduced to a water treatment service provider, SoLVillion, based in Jordan. It treats both greywater and blackwater. In this article, I share with you my interview with the founder who shared details of the start-up.
Aya Abul-Haj is a Jordanian Engineer who started this start-up with her husband in 2018. She lived in an area which was not connected with central sanitation network. They wanted to come up with a project that is low in cost. Also, a substitute for the underground tanks available in the area. Aya and her husband, both studied the market. They made a modification based on what is available in Jordan. In terms of water quality standards and legislations. Thus, they came up with a decentralized water treatment system to those people who are not linked to a network.
Taking the First Steps
Wastewater has high problems, on the environment and the health. It can sometimes reach groundwater and further pollute it. From the competition they participated in, they got the chance to be part of an incubator in Jordan. They received a fund that helped them make a prototype. They studied the device and the process which lasted for one year. Throughout the testing phase, they had to go through the procedure of officially registering their company. They registered the company in early 2019. After that, Aya shifted to a master’s program related to water. Specifically in environmental designing since she is an engineer. Her background is in industrial engineering and she worked in the renewable energy field.
They also got involved in acceleration programs and were involved in many incubators. They worked with many customers, mainly, organizations. Also, they worked heavily on raising awareness in partnership with many organizations to cover as many districts around Jordan. By far, they installed about 45 systems. Including 7 mosques and 6 schools. A university and a house. Also, they installed greywater treatment systems for about 30 residential buildings, not only for black water treatment. In addition, they realized that they can work on additional projects. For example, they provide training for university students in order to acquire the skills required in water engineering.
The training they provide titled SoLVillion challenge, in which they give a challenge for the students. Then, they must provide a solution related to water problems in Jordan. Then, the best solution gets a prize, for example, an internship opportunity. They have two people hired as full-time engineers. Ten people is the total number of their team members. They trained 210 people in total. They also have career bath development with their partners.
Challenges & Opportunities
The main challenges and lessons learned during this journey remain in terms of awareness. It is important to mention that the solution provided by SoLVillion is not for all people but they have their own customers to cover. Working with the private sector is easier than dealing with public sector. However, they still believe that they will connect with the public sector for future collaborations.
They hope to have a production line and to have their system as one piece. It is a long term plan they are currently working on it. They try to be realistic throughout this journey. Aya learned so much from SoLVillion but she mainly learned to be flexible. The impact of COVID-19 was tangible. However, it was positive for them. As they didn’t have to cancel any projects or contracts as they were already signed. They still can’t have new customers with the pandemic situation. Nevertheless, they provided online training sessions and they are developing in the online sphere.