Success is not only about stock standard “business success”. Other ventures take entrepreneurial passion, dynamic networks and all the skills of experienced business professionals to deliver exciting international achievements in life-changing projects.
At The June Network Forum of The Network Of Consulting professionals, we witnessed a great moment of celebration and support of progress in making social change happen: John Smith, Director of DSTpeople, presented Mark Balla, William Heine and Stephen Niwa, 3 other members of The NCP, with a $1500 cheque. John set aside that sum over the financial year as a % of the revenue of DSTpeople for We Can’t Wait, a not for profit organisation founded by Mark in 2014.
We Can’t Wait builds toilets in schools in India; and it intends to improve sanitation in developing countries, one toilet at a time. Building toilets in schools enables girls to continue to go to school; this significantly improves their life prospects through longer education. John expects that his financial contribution will build 4 toilets.
Ambitious Vision, Strong Support
In 2013 Mark Balla discovered the extent of the sanitation problem in India. And he was shocked by its life-defining consequences for adolescent girls. When he returned to Australia, he set-up We Can’t Wait and embarked on his ambitious project.
Mark received the active support of The Rotary Club, locally then internationally. And other consultants joined him: Stephen Niwa (Chairman and co-founder of the organisation), Will Heine (marketing), Mark Balla (co-founder and Director). Mark takes care of raising community awareness (check out his TED talk in New Zealand); Other members of The NCP, Mike Lescai and David Grieve have contributed valuable business and logistics expertise.
Many other people have been involved here and in India to make this project a success with a fast-growing list of achievements.
The program includes toilet construction and renovation, construction of communal hand washing stations. Equally importantly it includes 2 powerful activities:
- behaviour change education in classrooms
- and an extensive community outreach effort through the schools to their surrounding communities.
Awesome Achievements, Unusual Measures Of Success
The first We Can’t Wait project was 15 toilets in a town called Nasik. Since its completion in 2015, We Can’t Wait has opened 135 toilets in a series of toilet projects at Pune, near Delhi. So far, they’ve provided enough toilets for 6,500 students, across seven schools. These numbers are growing exponentially. And starting in 2016/17 We can’t Wait will replicate its program in other countries.
However completed toilets and geographic expansion are only 2 classic measures of success.
Mark Balla recalls the moment when he first knew that social change was indeed happening:
Three days after the toilets opened at that first school Mark received a call from one of his partners. There was a problem:
The school boys were complaining that now the queues for water are too long because the girls have come back to school and started drinking water again! And we heard at that school the absentee rate across the student body dropped from 8% a day to just 2%.
More success measures included other nearby schools asking to use and maintain the toilets, and children asking their parents to build toilets at home.
These achievements are just the beginning!
To know more about We Can’t Wait and to donate go to their website http://wecannotwait.org