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PoV: Opportunities to make a difference in emergency/disaster relief situations

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

We are of the opinion that the emergency/ disaster relief space where social impact can be most effectively be realized in "water".

While technology breakthroughs addressing water and wastewater challenges tend to grab the headlines, the Mazarine Ventures team is fascinated by business model innovations, or any total re-design that fundamentally changes the way water is delivered, used, or managed. Our first effort in this pursuit is emergency/disaster relief water.

So, we live in a strange world where we can actually watch human suffering on our phones and computer screens. Every day, somewhere in the US an emergency/disaster is unfolding, with some of us asking how we can help; however, many just watch the brief or ongoing ‘event’ in disbelief, and get back to what they were doing. Some altruistic philanthropists support chronic or systemic ‘disasters’ like poverty and gender/race equality, others support environmental causes. But what about ensuring that emergency/disaster survivors and first responders have safe water to drink?

The biggest need during and after an emergency or disaster Thankfully, civic and non-profit organizations are quick to respond with safe water for communities facing an emergency or disaster. The incumbent offering is plastic water bottles, and recently we have seen canned water. Whether you call it ‘emergency relief water’ or ‘disaster relief water’, or ‘humanitarian relief water’ the need for safe water is the paramount need during and immediately after the event. From hydration to cooking to hygiene, leading authorities suggest human health can be maintained with as little as 1 gallon per day for an adult, and 0.6 gallons per child. None of this should be a surprise, it’s kind of intuitive… water is life, right? So what’s the problem that we identified?

The incumbent ‘solution’ is flawed While a delivery of one-time-use plastic water bottles to a disaster site is certainly welcome by those in critical need, we can’t sit back and watch this flawed business model executed anymore. Key shortcomings of plastic water bottles for emergency/disasters include: 1) many brands’ water bottles leach toxic chemicals from the plastic into the water – especially when exposed to sunlight and/or heat, 2) delivering safe water in plastic bottles leads to mountains of trash, harms the natural environment, commonly referred to as the disaster after the disaster, and 3) breakage of plastic water bottles is far too common meaning less safe water delivered. Also, and the business model improvement we see, is that companies, organizations, professional athletes, celebrities, and even some individuals will donate more water if they could have their brand and/or their messaging on the packaging carrying the safe water. Our vision is not only that brand involvement will result in more water more for emergency/disaster events, but also creating the most eco-friendly solution available.

Enter Box of Rain Water’s Safe Water Box The idea is actually pretty simple. Just like wine in a box, we thought why not put water in a box and make it easy for companies and individuals to help out in a tangible way. Box water already exist, but no one was bringing this innovation into emergencies/disasters and allowing people and companies to sponsor water. Also, Safe Water Boxes have been designed to offer the minimum amount of water for two adults and one child for one day making it the ideal solution. The boxes are almost impossible to break, and while there is a plastic bladder in the box, it’s free of any toxins and can be recycled.

80% less plastic !!!!

This is the big one. When we started looking at incumbent plastic water bottle offering we started doing the math. “Brand A” uses 0.70 Lbs of plastic to make 20 water bottles which contains a total of 2.64 gallons. “Brand B” uses 1.00 Lb of plastic to deliver the same amount of water. The Box of Rain Safe Water Box only uses 0.15 Lbs of plastic to deliver 2.64 gallons of water. When we saw the side by side comparison, we knew we were on to something big.

Whatever the solution, it has to be convenient for those with social impact goals

Customer experience (CX) is everything, so we streamlined the process for corporate and individual sponsors of Safe Water Boxes. Simply put, once you decide that your social impact efforts going forward will include water, the rest is up to Box of Rain Water. The purified water is: 1) containerized in boxes with your brand and messaging, 2) shipped via one of our logistics partners to one of our ‘last mile’ non-profit or government partner’s warehouses, and 3) ready to be distributed locally when, unfortunately, the next disaster strikes. The last steps are 4) your Safe Water Boxes are handed out by Box of Rain Water’s ‘last mile partners’ and 5) photos are taken for your boxes reaching the hands of families and first responders.

Some prefer anonymity, others want to be seen as leaders

Sharing photos of your Safe Water Boxes with your employees, team, customers, suppliers, investors, fans or even your mom will go a long way in showcasing your altruism. Eminence building opportunities have never been more important, and whilst a disaster is no place for branding, it’s more importantly an opportunity to show you care. We see it as a win-win.

A one-size-fits-all solution won’t work

There are as many preferences and objectives as there are people and companies. Box of Rain Water understands that you may prefer to help disasters/emergencies in a certain geography, or for some reason you might prioritize tornados over hurricanes. Perhaps you prefer to remain anonymous, or would like the packaging of the box to include the logos of your partners, suppliers, or clients. For those wishing to remain anonymous, Box of Rain Water offers a basic ‘Standard’ box that doesn’t offer any branding opportunities, it’s just a box of safe water.

You wanna talk social impact?

It surprises us a little that water doesn’t make the list for social and community impact efforts. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods happen all year, every year somewhere in the US. And let’s not forget about ongoing un-safe water crises like Flint, Newark, or the Navajo Nation. We would argue that giving someone safe water is the most important thing you can give them during a period of disaster/emergency. We also understand that once the disaster/emergency lessens, other needs eclipse water offering opportunities for other social impact groups to step in.

So, how much impact can I make with a Safe Water Box?

One Standard pallet (without any branding or messaging) is $675 and has 72 Safe Water Boxes, which meets the minimum water needs for about 200 people for one day. Feeling like making a bigger impact? 150 pallets is $114,000 and has 11,250 Standard Safe Water Boxes which meets the minimum water needs for about 30,000 people for one day.

Who’s in this with Mazarine Ventures?

Box of Rain Water is a joint venture between Mazarine Ventures and W.S Darley & Co, a leader in fire and first responder tools and services since 1908. Prior to this JV, Darley had been offering Safe Water Boxes to their customers for years, but via this partnership the Safe Water Boxes will reach many more communities in need. While we are currently only operating in the US, there is a plan to expand Box of Rain Water around the world.

Learn more at Box of

John Robinson, Partner, Mazarine Ventures


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