INSPIRING AFRICANS: Thirsting for black philanthropy

13 Feb 2018

It began as a quest for a healthier lifestyle.
Today GiveMeTap, a sustainable water scheme, has provided more than 23,000
people with clean water.

Self-styled “water guy” Edwin Broni-Mensah
wants to inspire more Africans into giving back.

When the London-born
entrepreneur travelled to Namibia to set up his first water project a few years
ago, he was the only black person on the trip.

Now seven years after
founding his sustainable water scheme GiveMeTap, and with more than 23,000
people quenched, the dynamic charity chief is calling for black solidarity,
which he says is rooted in his own heritage.

“My dad grew up in
Ghana without easy access to water,” says Broni-Mensah, 32. “I feel extremely
privileged to have grown up in the UK, but millions of communities lack access
to water. How can I help them?”


At first he wanted to
help himself. Back in 2010, the former Maths PhD student was hunting for free
tap water in restaurants and cafes in the UK, in pursuit of a six-pack that
required him to drink plenty of litres per day.

“I was met with so
much resistance,” he recalls. “People kept telling me to buy a bottle of water
first before they could give me a refill.”

From this emerged an
idea to set up a free water refill scheme that wouldn’t just benefit Britain,
but potentially also hydrate Africa.

So how does it work?

Customers in Britain
and now in the US, where Broni-Mensah recently moved, buy a stainless steel
bottle and refill it using a growing network of cafes and restaurants which
will fill them for free. Part of the
proceeds go toward funding boreholes in places such as Ghana, Malawi and
Namibia. Each bottle grants a person clean water for five years, according to


Projects like
Broni-Mensah’s have been touted as potential solutions to drought crises such
as the one afflicting South Africa. Cape Town is due to run out of water by

But with a lean
workforce of just three staffers, the company still lacks the logistical
framework to provide a whole town with water.

“There’s still a lot
more to do,” acknowledges Broni-Mensah, referring to the 600 million people in
the world still without clean drinking water. “That number is rapidly
declining, so it’s encouraging.” So too are new plans in London to improve access to tap water and
eliminate plastic bottled waste by 2021.

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