Helioz is a Research and Development Company founded by Martin Wesian (CTO) in 2010 as a GmbH. The Social Enterprise is engaged in the development, research and sale of affordable and efficient tools for low-income households, humanitarian organizations, emergency aid organizations and companies around the globe. The enterprise focuses on finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. To tackle the world water crisis, Helioz has developed an inexpensive and easy-to-use device, especially adapted for the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), called WADI.
WADI stands for WAter DisInfection and is Helioz`s first product. The company’s aim is to make WADI affordable for the BoP. Currently, one WADI costs 15€ in developing countries and 29€ in Europe. Compared to other methods, like boiling the water or using chlorine, it is very inexpensive in the long run:
“you only need the sun’s power to make it work and you can use one WADI for many years”, Manuela Kräuter, the CEO of Helioz explains.
WADI is based on Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS). SODIS describes a natural process, in which the UV-radiation of the sun inactivates harmful pathogens in the water. PET plastic bottles are filled with contaminated water and are then exposed to sunlight. Over time, the sun’s UV-radiation will make the contaminated water safe to drink. The SODIS method was researched and developed at the ETH Zürich by the Swiss water research institute Eawag in the 1980ies, and has been approved and endorsed by WHO and by UNICEF. However, this smart and efficient method is widely unknown and only applied by a few million people worldwide. Martin Wesian believes that the main reasons for this include the difficulty of explaining how solar water disinfection works and how to predict the length of this process. WADI makes the use of SODIS more reliable and applicable. WADI is a solar powered UV-measurement device that is placed next to the PET plastic bottles and serves as an indicator for SODIS. A happy smiley face on the WADI display indicates the point in time at which the UV-radiation of the sun has made contaminated water in PET plastic bottles safe to drink. According to WHO, 19 factors (e.g. sea level, humidity, smog…) influence the impact of the UV radiation, and in succession the time that the water cleaning process needs. The software of WADI puts all influences into account and computes the time of the SODIS process.
Helioz collaborates mainly with local partners and NGOs in six selected countries (India, Pakistan and Nepal in Asia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in Africa), who are responsible for the distribution of WADI within their designated territories. This way they are able to bring WADI to people affected by waterborne diseases quickly and efficiently. Local partners are more aware of the specific situations within their territories, and are able to supply remote areas with WADI more easily. The distribution partners also have valuable networks and links to corporations, governments and educational establishments, and are effective in spreading awareness about the problems of unsafe drinking water. Helioz has three different types of customers:
“NGOs, private companies that are using WADI for their Corporate Responsibility statement by putting their logo on our product, and the local distributors”, Manuela Kräuter explains in a recently published interview.
In addition to WADI Helioz is also planning on developing and selling other products that tackle the problems of the most impoverished people in the world. One new product is already in development and financed by a EU-Research project. It will use WADIS technology to measure the water cleaning process in bigger containers. The containers will be manufactured with biodegradable resources. Beyond producing their own products, Helioz are also open to distributing products for the target group from other producers, like solar lamps.
 The BoP is the 3 billion people who live on less than US$2.50 per day.