If at 20 years of age his future wasn’t looking as bright as he might have wanted it to be, at 50 years old, David Monnier found his way. First, through humanitarian aid, where for twenty years he has led and piloted numerous missions in the former Yugoslavia, the Comoros, Liberia, Guinea, Chad, South Sudan, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan, helping people affected by conflict or natural disasters. “Each time, access to safe drinking water is a major issue for NGOs and humans all around the globe”, says the humanitarian aid worker, who has become an expert in emergency response and coordination of international development projects. (French and British Red Cross, international disability alliance, international solidarity foundation…).
Providing drinking water is expensive (200€/day for 1000 people according to the contractor), requires the installation of a generator, the use of fuel. “As soon as the NGOs leave, the refugees, who are not destined to stay there, find themselves without a solution,” laments David Monnier who, back from Haiti in 2013, integrated a British company specialized in micro-filtration of water, as a business developer.
From humanitarian to entrepreneurship, the Nantes startup Fonto de Vivo, «Fontaine de Vie» French for “Fountain of life” was born. Its aim is to produce drinking water in a quick, independent, cost efficient and simple manner.
A patented system that treats 99.9% of bacteria in water
The young company is building an ecosystem that relies on the know-how of a research firm and calls on a European specialist to miniaturize the filtration membrane, the heart of the system.
The startup is soliciting the help of many companies including MTO Plastics to build a sustainable, economically viable solution.
Collaborating together, the two companies developed a manual model, characterized with autonomy, featuring a lightweight (2kg), while being equipped with a membrane backwash system, in order to guarantee water quality and ease of reparability.
Most importantly, the device is capable of producing 120 litres of drinking water per hour. The start-up’s patented ultrafiltration system relies on WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines to treat 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. Its shape was designed to meet the logistical requirements of humanitarian pallets.
Dubbed Orisa, this purifier, which has an estimated lifespan of five years, is sold for €80 excluding taxes. A depreciable cost between 4 and 12 months, according to the NGOs consulted. In other words, a very affordable price. A pre-series of 500 units has just been produced by MTO Plastics.
The objective is to produce 6,000 devices by the end of this year, 20,000 next year and 50,000 in 2022. From €400,000 in 2020, revenue could, if Covid does not interfere with the momentum outlined by the business plan, quickly climb to €2 million next year and €6 million by 2022.
In addition to the targeted NGOs which are both potential clients and trusted prescribers, Fonto de Vivo is increasingly sought after by numerous modest local associations.
Be it a village, a dispensary or an orphanage, faced with the problem of unavailability of drinking water. “People come to us,” said David Monnier, who, through NGOs, could quickly roll out his solution in 25 countries.